Sunday, 3 January 2016

Chunky Minestrone Soup (includes Thermomix and Instant Pot Pressure Cooker instructions)

A delicious, hearty Italian soup originally made from leftovers and seasonal ingredients.

This is possibly my favourite soup - I just love the comforting flavours, and the feeling that because of the wonderful mixture of vegetables, tomatoes, legumes and pasta that you're eating something really good for you. If you can resist it, the flavours improve and it tastes even better the day after making! Omit the pancetta and use vegetable stock to make this into a fantastic vegetarian dish. Use rice or gluten free pasta to make it wheat / gluten free (I like to use gluten free spaghetti broken up into short lengths). Substitute any vegetables and beans you like (or have to hand!) to make it your own.

When I planned the ingredients to make this (I normally just throw everything in when making this kind of soup! But when I'm going to blog something, I plan it in advance) I wasn't really thinking in terms of volume, and ended up using two stockpots to fit everything in, so I have scaled it down to more reasonable proportions - however, feel free to halve the recipe below if needed, you won't really need to adjust the timings particularly. It depends on your appetites, and how much of a meal as to how many portions you end up with, and it freezes and defrosts really, really well. I just portion it out into small food bags which easily fit a 500g portion each, or more.

Makes 16 lunch-sized servings of approximately 250g at 106 calories per serving (I find 250g is quite filling) - or for a dinner-sized serving, double it to 500g for a pretty hearty and filling meal! Add grated parmesan on top for 39 calories per 10g (goes pretty far if you use a microplane grater).

For those counting calories, I've put them in square brackets next to each ingredient, along with the weights of the vegetables. If you're not counting, don't feel obliged to stick rigidly to the weights given below, they're just a guide.

  • 1 onion (100g) [41]
  • 2-3 large carrots (300g) [78]
  • 2 celery sticks (150g) [15]
  • 2 garlic cloves [6]
  • 6 fresh sage leaves [2]
  • Stalks from a handful of parsley leaves (as below) [2]
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil [61]
  • 120g pancetta / bacon lardons (or cut smoked streaky bacon into strips) – omit for vegetarian version [349]
  • 2 litres good chicken or vegetable stock [80]
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes (or 800g fresh, skinned and deseeded plum tomatoes) [200]
  • 50g tomato puree [50]
  • 100g green beans [29]
  • 2 courgettes (300g) [54]
  • 1 large potato (250g) [180]
  • 100g dried pasta (e.g. cannolicchi, ditalini, or any short tube pasta like macaroni, or spaghetti broken into short lengths - I use gluten free spaghetti) or long grain rice if you prefer [362]
  • 100g petit pois (or garden peas) [66]
  • 1 x 400g tin borlotti or cannellini beans, drained (or a mixture / your favourite - 240g drained weight) [240]
  • ½ Savoy cabbage or cavalo nero, cored and shredded  (250g - remove the core, and any thick ribs from the outer leaves first – Thermomix chop quarters with cores removed for 2 seconds / Speed 5 and repeat if needed) [80]
  • Handful each fresh basil and parsley leaves, chopped last minute, some basil reserved for serving. [4]
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste [2]

To serve
  • Parmesan cheese, freshly grated [39 calories per 10g]
  • Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (optional) [122 calories per 15ml tbsp]

(Thermomix tips in italics in brackets)
1. Peel the onions, carrots, and potato, then chop into large chunks along with the celery (to fit into a food processor).

2. Finely chop the peeled garlic cloves, sage leaves and parsley stalks - use a food processor if you prefer (Thermomix drop onto running blades / Speed 8).

3. Add the chunks of onion, carrot, and celery, and pulse / chop until they resemble small dice. (Thermomix 2 seconds / Speed 4, repeat).

4. Heat the oil in a large stock pot or pan (ideally 4.5 litres or more, or you may need to split into 2 pans after frying off the vegetables - for Instant Pot choose 'Saute'), and fry the pancetta / bacon until just starting to brown. Add the chopped vegetables, and saute over a reasonably high heat for several minutes until the onions have softened. [For Instant Pot, or Pressure Cookers, now add the stock, tomatoes, tomato puree, small-cubed courgettes and potatoes - Thermomix instructions for chopping in step 5 - green beans, pasta and set to cook on high pressure for 5 minutes, leave to naturally release pressure for 5 minutes, then release remaining pressure and continue from stage 7.  using the 'Saute' function to keep the soup simmering].

5. Add the stock, tomatoes and tomato puree to the pan. Cut the courgettes and potatoes into large chunks, then add them to the food processor and pulse / chop into small dice (Thermomix chop courgettes 3 seconds / Speed 4, and potatoes 2 seconds / Speed 5) and add to the pan and bring everything to the boil.

6. Add the green beans and pasta to the pot, turn down to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, until the vegetables are just tender.

7. Remove a few ladles of the liquid (it's OK if a few stray vegetable pieces are in it), and blend with about a third of the drained, tinned beans (Thermomix turn the dial slowly up to Speed 9 / MC on, and keep there for 20 seconds until blended), then add back to the pot with the shredded cabbage, remaining beans and peas and continue cooking for a further 5 minutes or until the cabbage is just tender.

8. Stir in the chopped herbs, taste a spoonful of soup, and add salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper as necessary (I add about 1/2 to 1 tsp salt for our tastes). If you feel it needs it, add a teaspoon or so of sugar to bring out the tomato flavour. Ladle into bowls and serve scattered with freshly grated parmesan cheese if desired, a few fresh basil leaves, and an optional drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (if you’re not counting calories!).

Did you enjoy this recipe? Do leave me a comment below to help other people decide if they would like to cook it too! Thank you. :)

If you’re counting calories, stand your bowl on digital scales, then grate on the parmesan with a fine / microplane grater. 10g of parmesan cheese actually goes a long way like this, and is 39 calories. 1 x 15ml tbsp of extra virgin oil is 123 calories, so you might want to skip that for a fast day!

Remember parmesan cheese isn’t vegetarian, so offer a vegetarian substitute where appropriate if you're making this vegetarian. Obviously omit the cheese if catering for dairy free, and check your stock cubes are dairy free.

You may find the next day that some extra liquid has been absorbed - you can just add a little water when re-heating it, if you need to, and taste and adjust the seasoning again before serving, if needed.

1 comment:

  1. A delicious soup.I've tried many recipes over the years but this is definitely my favourite.I did halve the ingredients and it worked well.


Related Recipes

If you liked this recipe, you may also like these...