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Minestrone to soothe the soul

This minestrone is the only dish I have made every year of my life since I was sixteen. All those years ago, I found the recipe in an Elizabeth David paperback cookbook with yellowed pages and falling out pages.

It’s the kind of recipe that seems to come from the heart rather than the head, although the sensible side of me says it’s a great recipe for using up sad vegetables and keeping in the freezer for times of need.

People have asked for the recipe over the years, but I’ve never written it down before, maybe because I underestimated the power of a soul restoring soup. Minestrone soup recipe | Blah Blah Magazine

When I heard what had happened to my cousin, I booked the first flight to Brisbane I could and heard on the grapevine that my cousin wanted vegetable soup, so in amongst last minute packing, I made soup and blended some to make it easier for him to eat after surgery (and yes, the MyCook – a Thermomix competitor – I’ve been loaned for review made it quicker, but I have made this on the stove for most of my life, so please don’t feel like it’s essential).Minestrone soup recipe | Blah Blah Magazine

It was a while before I started thinking about the logistics of getting soup on the plane with a one year old too, but I bulldozed on because I had to try. I decided to leave the decision in the lap of airport security and wrapped up the soup in tea towels and a huge garbage bag I found in the shed, which amounted to more new plastic than I’ve used in the last six months, but I pushed on.

At the airport security queue, the guy signalled me out and directed me into a cordoned off area. They know, I thought. I had visions of being filmed for a reality TV show while a whole lot of security guys sampled the liquid in question to check it really was soup.

I was wrong, they were being nice, because I had a little person strapped to my front and moving me through quicker than everyone else. I asked the guy about my soup as I put my bag on the conveyor belt and he said, there are no restrictions for domestic in Australia, only international. I could’ve kissed him. No doubt, he’s grateful I restrained.

Amazingly, the soup didn’t explode at altitude, didn’t leak and made it to my cousin complete. He had a sip and sighed, ‘I can feel the goodness working already.’ I cried with happiness, because I’m so amazed at how well he is recovering. The human spirit is strong and so is a good soup.

Minestrone soup

This minestrone is a Genovese style because you add pesto at the end. You might be able to tell from the ingredients pic that the pesto I use is darker that’s because we grow perennial basil and when I hack it back we make pesto and freeze it in trays. Pesto could be considered an optional extra, but it does a lot to lift the flavour. The peas and parmesan rind are also optional extras. Minestrone soup recipe | Blah Blah MagazineAgain, I keep the rinds of parmesan in the freezer for throwing into Italian dishes. Recently, I’ve also started boiling dried kidney beans and freezing extra, so I used those rather than tinned. I didn’t have potatoes, but you can throw two of them in just before the zucchinis. 

If you’re taking this to someone in hospital, then real chicken or vegetable stock pack a powerful nutritious punch and I’d be really hesitant about replacing it with stock cubes and yet again, to make it easier I freeze homemade stock.

This soup tastes surprisingly good blended if someone can’t eat solid food.

Minestrone soup
A wholesome and delicious soup to soothe the soul
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  1. 1 large onion
  2. 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  3. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  4. 4 short cut rashers of free range bacon or 2 full rashers, diced
  5. A couple of bay leaves
  6. 2 sticks celery, diced
  7. 3 large or 4 small carrots, diced
  8. 1 tin tomatoes or 7 overripe tomatoes
  9. 2 zucchini, diced
  10. 4 cups chicken stock
  11. 1 can tinned kidney beans or 1 cup dried kidney beans, soaked overnight and boiled for two hours
  12. 1 parmesan rind (optional)
  13. 1 cup pasta
  14. 1 cup frozen peas (optional)
  15. 1/2 cup pesto
  16. Parmesan (optional)
  1. Dice onion. Heat oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat, add onion and allow to brown slightly. 
Add crushed garlic, bay leaves and diced bacon and allow to brown slightly.
  2. Add carrot and celery and cook for a few minutes. 
Add zucchini, tomatoes, chicken stock and parmesan rind (if using) and cook for 20 minutes.
 Add kidney beans, pasta and frozen peas (if using them) and cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve with a tablespoon of pesto and a sneaky sprinkle of parmesan.
Adapted from Elizabeth David
Adapted from Elizabeth David
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Cybele Masterman (Bele) trained as a beauty therapist, aromatherapist and journalist. After working as all of the above has found herself on a quest for a beautiful and meaningful life that doesn't cost the earth. Follow on google: +blahblahmagazine twitter: @blahblahzine or Instagram: BlahBlahMagazine

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  1. So, so glad you wrote an official recipe of this amazing soup!!!
    Now I won’t have to be creative and try to replicate it, I can just follow your steps and be sure to obtain the best result… I’m sure the taste will bring memories to my mind!!! Reading your post already brought memories of theses days at your place, back in 2010!!!

  2. I’m so happy you remember it from all those years ago x

  3. My soul needs restoring at the moment. This might be the soup to help me x

  4. This looks delicious. It always makes me feel great when I make food for someone who’s in pain and it seems to help. I can’t imagine being in his situation, hopefully he recovers well. He’s lucky you were able to bring it on the plane. That was nice and thoughtful of you 🙂

  5. I can’t believe it didn’t leak. Everything leaks for me, without fail! And leaking soup would be doubly bad because of the colour. Looks fab by the way!

  6. There isn’t much that a good bowl of homemade soup can’t fix.

  7. Firstly I hope your cousin improves further. That was very sweet of you to rush your cousin’s aide and with such a yummy soup. Book marking this one, as I have a special someone in hospital this week, who may need a dose of this.

  8. This soup is delicious, but I had to transfer to a big pot on the stove (I was using my thermomix) when it was time to add the beans, peas and pasta. Maybe my other veges were massive. I made probably 3 litres in total. The kids love it

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