Minestrone soup by Jo Pratt
This minestrone soup recipe is a lifesaver for busy parents. It's hearty, healthy and flavoursome - and it's ready in only 30 minutes. You don't have to be strict about the ingredients you use - it really is a case of whatever veg you can find in the drawer in the fridge and any shape pasta you happen to have.
Any leftovers can be heated up the next day with an extra splash of water if it's too thick (and a cheeky splash of dry sherry when serving, if it's been a tough day!).
Try it with parmesan croutons - a great way to use up any stale bread.
Prep time:10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutesMakes: 2 adult and 2 child portions
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2-4 smoked streaky bacon rashers, diced (optional)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 celery sticks, finely sliced
3 veggies from your fridge, about 200g/7oz, chopped, such as courgette, carrot, small red pepper, handful of green beans, small leek
750ml/26fl oz/3 cups hot vegetable stock
750g/1lb 10oz/3 cups tinned chopped tomatoes or passata
75g/2.oz spaghetti or linguine, broken into small pieces, or small pasta shapes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat, add the onion and bacon, if using, and cook for five minutes until the onion is beginning to soften. Stir in the garlic, celery and any chopped vegetables and cook for about five minutes.
2. Add the stock, tomatoes and pasta and bring to the boil. Then reduce the heat to medium and leave to simmer for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables and pasta are all tender. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
3. Ladle the soup into bowls, top with a spoonful of pesto, if you like, and serve sprinkled with grated Parmesan.
How to make parmesan croutons:
If you have a loaf of bread that's gone beyond its best, don't just give it all to the ducks. Have a go at making some cheese croutons to scatter over your weekend soup.
1. To make enough for four adult-sized portions, simply remove the crusts from 2 -3 slices of bread and cut each piece into about 1cm or 1/2in cubes.
2. Toss with 2 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp finely grated parmesan cheese. Tip onto a baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 220c/425f/gas 7 for 10-12 minutes until golden and crunchy, turning a couple of times.
3.Leave to cool slightly.
Recipe from Jo Pratt's latest book, Madhouse Cookbook.
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