Sunday, September 04, 2005

She lives in a house, a very big house in the country…

It was a lovely Spring day today. A perfect day for making a sprightly vegetable soup.

111. Minestrone

I had no specific time in mind to serve this soup, but I chose to make it because I wanted to use up all the feral vegetables that were turning limp and mouldy in my fridge. I know Nigella has the minestrone as part of a COUNTRY HOUSE LUNCH FOR 6 menu, followed by a baked Sauternes custard, but I don't think I'd ever have the guts to serve minestrone to guests. You can buy it everywhere, and it's become such a ubiquitous and devalued menu item that no matter how lovely your homemade version, it'd seem to your guests that you'd made no effort. So I just made up a big pot, for me and my family to scavenge from throughout the week.

This soup is incredibly easy. Now, I know I say that almost every recipe is easy (and if you're cooking every day like I am, you'd naturally find that your skills improve and cooking requires less and less effort...), but this soup is properly simple. I promise. And the fact that you don't have to be too strict about the quantities or types of vegetables just makes it that much easier.

Basically, you heat oil and butter in a large pot, and add a variety of vegetables in order as you slice them, (onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, courgettes, beans, cabbage). Then cover with stock, and let simmer for two hours before stirring in cannellini beans and some small pasta (macaroni for me). As soon as the pasta's cooked (15 minutes?) the soup is ready to eat.

Now, to illustrate how easy and relaxed the whole process is, let me inform you about the state in which I made the soup. Last night it was my best friend's 21st birthday, and we went out. We went out late. We didn't get back to her place until 7am this morning, and after two and a half hours of sleep, I got up and came home. However, exhausted and hungover as I was, I didn't want to sleep. I thought it would be more sensible to push on through, sleep at a normal time tonight, and thus not totally screw up my body clock. Too tired to concentrate on studies, but not wanting to sleep, all I could do was cook. A bit of relaxed chopping and stirring was just what I needed.

Big, undeniably khaki, sludgy pot

I had some for dinner tonight, with some extra virgin olive oil drizzled over. When I went for seconds, I tried it with (as Nigella also recommends) chilli oil. Both are great, but I prefer the chilli oil. Just like in the beef and beans with pasta, chilli oil and macaroni is a winning combination.


This is a heartily satisfying, yet virtuously gratifying meal. With so many vegetables, it must be good for you. I can definitely see myself making it again, but I'll probably use a lot less oil in cooking, (120ml is specified in the recipe, with 40g butter), and not sprinkle olive oil over when eating, as I found it quite oily.

Ooh, I just realised that the last time I had macaroni and chilli oil (in the beef and beans with pasta) I was in hangover recovery mode as well. Hmm...

1 comment:

Ilana said...

I made this soup last night!!! Wow!
I couldn't believe how easy it was and how many friggin' vegetables there were in it... i have a bit of free time at work and i calculate approximately about a kilo of veggies altogether in one huge pot!!!!! Well needless to say we have seconds, thirds, and fourths, this coming week... but oh, sooo good! I would totally serve this up to guests; maybe as a starter... or with some nice crusty baguettes alongside. MMMMMMMMMMMM. i made the garlic bread from FS to go with.. so yum! I have some leftover for lunch today. Can't wait!!! Thanks for the inspiration. You are the reason I open up my HTE and search out yummy things to make! Check out my fairy cakes too, have you made them yet?