Somehow the ingredients list for this recipe seems to have become rather long, but don't worry. Minestrone (like most soups) is really quite simple to make. It is a substantial and versatile soup, warm and comforting in cool weather, but equally inviting on a warm spring day, and when served with some crusty bread, it can easily form the basis of a meal.
For 6-8 servings:
1 Tbsp olive (or other) oil
1-2 rashers bacon, chopped (optional)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, finely diced
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 medium carrots, finely diced
2 medium sticks celery, thinly sliced
1 medium potato, scrubbed and cubed
400g can (about 2 cups) kidney beans
400g can whole tomatoes in juice
3/4 cup small pasta shapes
1 cup frozen peas
2 cups finely sliced cabbage
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp pesto (or 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil)
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated parmesan and/or pesto to serve
Heat the oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Cook the bacon (if using) until golden then add the garlic and onion, continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until the onion is soft and clear.
Stir in stock then the fresh vegetables. Open then rinse and drain the beans and add these along with the tomatoes (and juice), breaking up the whole tomatoes with a fork.
Bring the soup to the boil then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the potato is tender.
Add the pasta, peas, cabbage, herbs and seasonings. Simmer for a further 10-15 minutes or until the pasta is tender but still firm. Check and adjust the seasonings if required and add some water if you think the soup is too thick.
Ladle the soup into warmed bowls. Top each serving with a little freshly grated parmesan and/ or a spoonful of pesto if desired.
Note: For vegetarian soup, omit the bacon and use vegetable rather than chicken stock.
EGGLESS BRAN MUFFINS
A bran muffin may sound a little dull, but these really are delicious. Warm from the oven or reheated, they make a great low-fat breakfast or lunch. We really like their golden syrup flavour and often top each half with a spoonful of low-fat cottage cheese, for texture and flavour contrast.
For 12 large regular muffins:
3/4 cup golden syrup
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup milk
2 cups wheat bran
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
Heat oven at 210 degrees Celsius or 200C fan bake. Put the rack just below the middle.
Measure the golden syrup into a large bowl. (Dipping your measuring cup in hot water before dipping it into the tin of syrup will make measuring it easier). Add the boiling water to the syrup in the bowl, and stir until syrup is dissolved. Add the milk and stir again. (The mixture will be almost cold if the milk was refrigerated.)
Measure the remaining ingredients into another bowl. (If you think there might be lumps in the baking soda, measure it into the palm of your hand, squash it several times with the back of the spoon, then tip it into the bowl with the other dry ingredients.)
Using a fork or your fingers, mix everything together thoroughly.
Spray the 12 muffin pans thoroughly with non-stick spray. Tip the dry ingredients into the cool or cold milk. Preferably using a flat-bladed stirrer or rubber scraper, fold the dry ingredients into the wet mixture until all the bran and flour is dampened. Do not beat or stir the mixture at all.
Drop the mixture off a large spoon, helping it off with another spoon. (Expect more mixture, of a wetter consistency than normal.)
Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the muffins are an attractive brown colour and until they spring back when pressed. Because the mixture is fairly wet, the muffin tops may be flatter than usual.
Leave muffins to stand in the pans for 3-4 minutes, then carefully transfer to a cooling rack. Put in plastic bags when cold. Freeze any muffins you do not expect to eat within two days.
Variations: Before you measure the syrup, pour 1/2 cup boiling water over 1/2 cup of raisins or sultanas. After you have stirred the milk into the syrup, drain the hot water off the raisins, rinse them in cold water to cool, then add to the syrup mixture.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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