Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.
~ Ludwig van Beethoven ~
I love soup. Even when I am watching what I eat, I still make my low carb Green Veggie Soup. Growing up, my father was the chief soup maker in our house. He would start making soup around lunchtime, just as the cold front moved over Pretoria in winter. He used to make thick beefy soups that would take hours to cook. But when supper came around, we would happily tuck into bread and soup that would fill our stomachs and warm us up at the same time. I will definitely post a recipe for one of his hearty beef soups soon. In the meantime, and since it is only early autumn, I will rather offer a lighter soup, like my Quick Minestrone Soup.
There are hundreds of Minestrone recipes on the internet – no two totally alike. Minestrone soup is usually a brothy vegetable soup with seasonal vegetables, onions, tomatoes, beans and pasta. And in that little description is the beauty of it: you can put in whatever you have! There are recipes that add meat, but most are vegetarian, adding the beans and pasta to give it some bulk. And that’s why I came to love Minestrone Soup – what can be nicer than veggies, beans and pasta in a tomato-based broth on a cold day? It’s a meal in one bowl. And if you keep it vegetarian, you literally need to only start your soup 45 minutes before dinner! So my recipe is really just a suggestion and you can add whatever veggies you have and can tolerate in a soup.
Full of beans
Traditionally Barlotti beans are used in Minestrone but I have seen many other beans mentioned in recipes. I have chosen to use plain baked beans in tomato sauce. The sweetness in the baked bean sauce combines well with the tomato puree in the soup. It’s one of those things where I had a “taste profile” in my head of what I wanted my soup to taste like and this combination achieves that. You are welcome to use whatever beans you have at hand. The pasta is also your choice. I sometimes collect bits of leftover uncooked pasta in a jar that I mix up and use for soup. You can leave out the pasta if you want to keep it low carb. You should then also not eat your Quick Minestrone Soup with crusty sourdough bread as I intend to!
Quick Minestrone Soup
- ½ onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 2 celery stalks, sliced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 4 cups vegetable stock, warmed
- 250 g mushrooms, sliced
- 2 carrots, quartered lengthwise and sliced
- 5 baby marrows, halved lengthwise and sliced
- 3 tbsp tomato puree
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 t sugar
- 2 hands small pasta shapes like shells or elbow macaroni
- 1 tin baked beans in tomato sauce
- ½ cup frozen peas (optional)
- Add the oil to a large pot and fry the onion, garlic and celery over medium heat until translucent but not browned.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and fry for another 3 minutes.
- Add the carrots, mushrooms and baby marrows.
- Add the warmed stock and bring up to a simmer.
- Add the tomato puree, sugar and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
- Let the soup simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- If some of the liquid has cooked away, top-up the level of liquid in the pot with just-boiled water.
- Increase the heat until the soup is bubbling well, add the pasta shapes and stir frequently as the pasta will quickly stick to the bottom of the pot otherwise.
- Cook until the pasta is al dente, add frozen peas and reduce the heat.
- Check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper if necessary. You could also add some just-boiled water again if the soup is too thick.
- Add the tin of baked beans just before serving, mixing carefully.
- Serve with a sprinkling of fresh chopped parsley and crusty bread.
- Many recipes for Minestrone Soup use chopped, tinned tomatoes. I am not mad about the metallic taste the tinned tomatoes add, especially as this soup doesn't cook for very long. I therefore prefer to add fresh tomatoes and fry them with the onion, garlic and celery for added flavour.