I guess if you have been following my blog you would know by now that soups are not exactly my favourite food. In fact, I have only one soup recipe on my blog till date! My husband and daughter, on the other hand, enjoy their soup. But Akshaya always tells me that I am not very good at making soup and I have to agree with her. Maybe it has something to do with my indifferent attitude towards soup in general.
Some time back, I decided to work on improving my soup making skills. On one hand, soup is a great thing when you want a light but filling dinner. On the other hand if you are careful about what you eat or garnish your soup with, it is an excellent meal which is low in calories. One does have to worry about these things as one gets older (and heavier)!
Minestrone is an Italian soup which takes its name from "minestra" which refers to a hearty or chunky soup. There are probably as many different recipes for minestrone as there are people who cook it and every region of Italy has its traditional minestrone soup that it is famous for. However, all minestrone soups usually feature a tomato based broth (this could be thin or thick) with onion, celery, beans, seasonal vegetables and sometimes pasta or rice. Some versions also include a bit of meat.
So minestrone is a soup that very easily adapts itself to what is available in one's kitchen. And given the ingredients it accommodates, it makes for a nutritious and filling one-dish meal.
I have adapted this recipe from Tarla Dalal's The Complete Italian Cookbook. She says that this particular minestrone with pesto is from Milan. The pesto lends the minestrone a nutty flavour and can be made ahead, but add it just before you finish making the minestrone. This minestrone is best served as soon as it is made.
1 big onion, finely chopped
3/4 tsp garlic paste
2 tbsp celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
1/2 cup finely chopped zucchini
1/2 cup finely shredded cabbage
1 1/4 cup cooked black-eyed beans
1/4 small shell pasta (or any soup pasta)
3 tbsp tomato purée
1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
For the pesto:
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves
3 to 4 walnut halves
1 tbsp olive oil
3 to 4 tbsp grated parmesan or processed cheese (optional)
Prepare the pesto by pounding all the ingredients together. Keep aside.
Heat the oil, add the garlic paste and onions and sauté till the onions become transparent. Add the celery, carrots, zucchini and cabbage and sauté for a minute. Add about four cups of water, the tomato purée, salt and sugar. Stir well and bring to a boil.
Simmer until the vegetables have cooked but are firm. Add the beans and pasta and simmer again for about 10 minutes, until the pasta has cooked. Add the pepper and pesto and mix well.
Serve out into individual bowls and sprinkle with cheese, if using. This recipe serves 4.
This is my submission to Susan's Eighth Helping of My Legume Love Affair.
Since we had this soup without the cheese, it also goes to Vaishali's Its A Vegan World where the flavour of the month is Italian.