Tag Archives: carrot


Another cold day, another soup.

My minestrone is a bit time consuming, because of the amount of ingredients and prep but wonderfully relaxing to cook. Because minestrone is not a smooth soup you have to take the time to make sure the texture just right. I like a minestrone to have all its ingredients chopped very tiny so that you get a lovely nubby mouthful every time but you don’t have to, you can have them cut larger, just adjust the cooking time. You can also make this soup with or without the pancetta but the addition of pork intensifies the flavour, and adds a little luxury. Traditionally minestrone is from the ‘cucina povera’ style of Italian cooking (literally ‘poor cooking’) as it is very cheap and very adaptable. In fact, you can (and should) try to use almost any vegetable, cabbage and turnip are common additions and beans and pasta are the Italian staple ingredients but you can experiment with whatever vegetables are in season and add beans, pancetta and stock to your taste or availability. If you’re really pushing it, just use water instead of stock, it’s not as flavoursome, but still very good.

I always cook my pasta separately if I’m planning on keeping any leftovers otherwise the pasta continues to increase in size while it absorbs all the soup liquid, but if you’re serving it all up, cook the pasta in the soup, it will absorb not only liquid but all the gorgeous flavours. If you can’t find little pasta use spaghetti and break it into smaller pieces before cooking. I’ve included some tips below on speeding up the chopping process but I recommend you take your time, put the radio on (or Desperate Housewives, my current weakness) and slowly prepare until everything is ready in neat little piles ready to cook!


2 oz butter

1 large white onion

(optional) 100g pancetta, cubed

4 carrots

3 sticks of celery

1 leek

1 courgette

4 cloves of garlic

a handful of grated Parmesan and a Parmesan rind (if you have one)

12 small plum tomatoes, quartered

1 1/4 pints stock (chicken or vegetable)

1 tin tomatoes

1 tin cannellini beans

2 tsb olive oil

100g fresh spinach, shredded

200g tiny pasta

salt and pepper

Parmesan to serve

Serves 6

Cut the carrots, celery and courgette into very small dice but keep them in separate piles because you add them at different times

I do my ‘tiny dicing’ by slicing the carrots and courgettes lengthways into about 5mm slices, then turning and doing the same lengthways slices to make strips. Then chop into little square dice:

Chop your onion finely and the leek into thin rounds.

Melt the butter in a large enough pan to hold all the ingredients and sweat the onions celery and carrots (and pancetta if your using it) on a very low heat for 10 minutes with the lid on.

After 5 minutes add the courgettes, garlic, leek and courgettes and continue with the lid on for another 5-10 minutes until the vegetables are only just cooked.

Now add the fresh tomatoes, Parmesan, Parmesan rind and stock. Add the chopped tomatoes and bring the whole lot up to simmering point. I like to chop the tomatoes into smaller pieces while they are still in the tin using scissors

Add the pasta to the soup or boil a separate pan of salted water and cook the pasta until al dente

Season your soup to taste

In the final moments before serving add the spinach, and cooked beans and serve with freshly grated Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil (don’t forget to remove the Parmesan rind!)

If you have cooked the pasta separately stir some olive oil through it and serve the soup with a few spoonfuls on top.

Absolutely delicous. I must say, it’s one of my favourite things to eat on a cold day. Warming and hearty, yet not heavy.



Filed under Lunch, Pasta, Pulses, Recipes, Soup, Supper, vegetables, Vegetarian

Spicy Root Soup

Nothing in the fridge, let’s make soup!










There were a few lonely looking carrots and parsnips in the fridge and now that Autumn has finally arrived I thought a warming spicy soup would suit nicely.

Turmeric, cumin and coriander add a light curried spice and although beautifully subtle they enrich the sweetness of the roots. I think carrot and/or parsnip soup on its own is too sweet; it needs this spicy kick.

Spicy Root Soup

6 carrots

6 small parsnips

4 cloves of garlic, whole in skins

1 onion, diced

olive oil


500ml chicken/vegetable/bouillon stock

Parmesan rind

1tsp cumin seeds

1tsp thyme

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp ground coriander

Salt and Pepper

Serves 2

Peel and chop your roots into large chunks, roughly the same size. Put in a roasting dish with 1/2 the cumin seeds, the thyme, a few knobs of  butter and enough olive oil to lightly coat the roots. Season with salt and pepper.

Roast the roots on gas mark 4 (180 degrees) for about 40 minutes or until they are soft. Turn them frequently as you do not want them to caramelise as you normally would as this will make them hard to puree and you’ll end up with lumps.

Add the garlic cloves (in their skins) for the final 15 minutes.

Heat a knob of butter in a large pan and fry your onions gently for 10 minutes with the lid on. Grind the remaining cumin seeds and add them to the onions with the turmeric and coriander. Cook the spices for a minute so they release their aroma.

Remove roots from oven and separate garlic cloves, squeeze the flesh out of the skins and add this to the onion and spice mix.

Add the roasted roots and all the juices and spices left in the roasting tray and stir to combine. Pour over hot stock, add Parmesan rind (this adds a lovely richness but is not compulsory!) and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Remove the Parmesan rind and discard.

Now puree! Either use a puree wand gizmo that my kitchen is sadly lacking (this makes for a smoother soup) or as I do, put it in a food mixer and whiz until smooth. (I think the only way for a truly smooth soup when made with root vegetables would be to sieve it at this stage, but really, who wants to do that?)

Return soup to the pan, add more stock if it’s too thick, season with salt and pepper and re-heat.

Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche swirled into the top and thick sliced sourdough toast with butter. Actually, this would be nice with a lovely fresh plain naan bread!


TIP: Parmesan rind will enrich any soup, just add it at the same time that you add the liquid and remember to remove it before pureeing or serving.

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Filed under Kitchen Tips, Recipes, Soup, Supper, vegetables, Vegetarian