classic minestrone

The best soups are frequently made form very cheap ingredients. In winter it makes having a crowd around much more affordable. We make a winter lunch with this classic minestrone, lots of hot crusty bread and a dessert usually something as quick and easy as apple crumble, hot cremé anglaise and if they are very lucky maybe some just churned ice cream.

All soup recipes should be regarded as a basis, rather than a bible and sensible experimentation is frequently well rewarded. At home Italian food rates highly and none more than this classic minestrone, a recipe generously passed on by my friend Diana Hetzel.

AO 24 AUGUST, 2022


8 medium bowls
generally eaten entirely by six

160g dried kidney beans, well covered with water and soaked overnight
300g p/w red onions, diced
300g p/w carrot, sliced
100g cleaned weight celery, finely sliced
60g (2 tablespoons EV olive oil
5g salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 hot or mild dried Italian sausages or 1 fresh Cotechini skinned and sliced
500g prosciutto ends
2 bay leaves
small bunch of fresh herbs tied up with kitchen string
750g Italian style tomato sauce (preservative free) OR make Olive’s tomato sauce
4L water
250g cherry tomatoes blanched and skinned
300g p/w medium zucchini, washed and sliced
160g tubetta pasta cooked al dente in boiling salted water with a little oil

125g pesto or green sauce
75g parmesan Reggiano, freshly and finely grated
few basil leaves (omit if using green sauce)




Sauté the onion, carrot and celery with the salt and pepper until they are caramelised. Add the sausage and cook for a few minutes before adding the prosciutto ends, herbs, water and tomato sauce.

Rinse the kidney beans several times under cold running water and add them to the soup. Cook simmering very gently until the beans are just tender 60 – 90 minutes. Remove the prosciutto ends and herb string and any floating herb stems from the soup. Skin the prosciutto, slice the meat and return it to the soup.

Just before serving add the tomatoes and zucchini and cook until the zucchini is just tender but still bright green — about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings, taking into account that the pesto and parmesan can be salty.

Add the pasta and serve garnished with the parmesan, pesto and basil leaves.

It is very difficult to give an exact time for cooking dried beans. The older they are the longer they take to cook. Soaking overnight helps enormously, but one still has to use common sense.

Prosciutto ends can be bought from any Italian butcher and will keep almost indefinitely in the fridge, especially when vacced. They can be quite salty and vary enormously so initial salting is light and adjusted when the soup is finished.

Traditionally the pasta is cooked in the soup, but unless you are going to eat the soup in one sitting we find cooking the pasta separately and adding it to each serve/s as we use the minestrone as it means the pasta never goes mushie.

Rewarm wood oven bread/ciabatta
by first running it under the cold water tap and wetting it on all sides. This means the centre will be soft and warmed through by the time the crust is crisped again. Usually about 15 minutes @ 200°C.


my rubbish bin soups

open the fridge
and what
do you find?

Apart from the fact that waste not want not has always been my mantra, who can afford to waste anything these days. A good soup can be made from just about anything. Remember staging, some ingredients need less cooking than others, but really, making a tasty filling soup is a no brainer.

Type soup into the search for a number of excellent base recipes.