Tag Archives: minestrone

Green Vegetable Minestrone with Toasted Pine Nuts

4 May

May Day here is known as Dia de la Cruz “Day of the Cross”. It is also Dia de los Verdes “Day of the Greens”. In Alhaurin there are two main churches known as The Greens & The Purples (the colours of the Andalucian flag). For the whole long weekend and Tuesday the Green Church known asVera Cruz have processions, marching bands and let off rockets very early in the morning and very late at night.

Thankfully it stopped raining long enough to get out and take some photos this week.

I can’t pretend to know what it’s all about but they seem to enjoy it and it brings the community (well one half of it anyway) together. Rows of different types of chairs are tied together all along the procession route so no one can steal a precious front row seat.

After the processions everyone congregates at the church.

Everyone is wearing green. Purple is a definite faux-pas. Unless you are our friend Miguel, who was over from England with his girlfriend Lindsey for the Bank Holiday. He decide to rock it in lilac jeans, despite all the funny looks, classic Miguel, hilarious….!!

So in keeping with this green weekend and to atone slightly for the purple jeans incident I have made a Green Vegetable Minestrone. This is my favourite soup that we served at the restaurant. I got it from a Cape Town cookbook my Dad gave to me. It is really fresh tasting and more Springy than a classic Minestrone. You can use whatever green veg you like just make sure you give it loads of fresh basil…

I kept it vegan & gluten-free by using rice vermicelli. You can use any pasta you like but keep it tiny. Freshly shaved parmesan on top is the authentic addition that I replaced with toasted pine nuts. Either way it’s a deliciously healthy bowl of goodness that leaves you feeling all virtuous inside…

Green Vegetable Minestrone with Toasted Pine Nuts

serves 6 , vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Cape Town Food by Phillippa Cheifitz

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 big Spanish spring onion (or 4 or 5 scallions)
  • 1 leek, halved lengthways, rinsed & finely sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 small cabbage, cored & finely shredded
  • 125 gr green beans, 2 cm diagonal slices
  • 1 courgette, diced
  •  bundle of asparagus, woody ends snapped off, 2cm diagonal slices
  • 100 gr frozen peas
  • 50 gr rice vermicelli (or other tiny pasta) 
  • 150 gr rocket (or spinach/watercress)
  • 1+ 1/2 litres veg stock
  • salt & black pepper
  • a big bunch of basil, leaves torn or sliced when served
  • 25 gr pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan
  • extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • shaved parmesan (unless vegan)

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over a medium heat, add in the spring onions, leeks & celery with a pinch of salt and cook until starting to soften about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic & parsley and cook for another minute or two.

Add in the cabbage and cook gently for about 10 minutes (you don’t want it to brown) add a splash of stock if dry. Then add in the rest of the vegetables, except the rocket and basil, and cook for another 5 minutes. Season well with salt & black pepper, pour over the stock, bring to the boil, cover, lower the heat & simmer for about 25 minutes.

Stir in the pasta and rocket and cook until tender about 5 minutes. Check seasoning and add more stock if you want it more soupy than stewy.

Ladle into warm bowls and sprinkle over lots of freshly torn basil, the toasted pine nuts and shaved parmesan (if using). Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin.

I think Los Verdes would approve don’t you?

Marvellous Minestrone

7 Dec

Minestrone is an Italian word meaning “the big soup.” It is the name for a variety of thick soup made with vegetables often with the addition of pasta or rice.  Common ingredients include beans, onions, celery, carrots, stock, and tomatoes. There is no set recipe for minestrone, since it is usually made out of whatever vegetables are in season.

Yesterday we walked past this  field of gorgeous cabbages looking like huge silvery roses in the sun. I had a cabbage at home and the Minestrone idea just grew out of  what I had in the fridge. I love this kind of soup, where you look at what vegetables you have in your fridge and make something hearty, healthy & delicious. You can turn normal everyday vegetables into a rustic farmhouse feast, which makes you feel all Tuscan Housewife for the afternoon….!

Marvellous Minestrone Soup

serves 4-6 vegetarian

  • 1 leek, cut in half lengthways, rinsed & sliced
  • 1/2 onion finely chopped
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 4 sticks celery sliced (save some leaves for garnish)
  • 1 large carrot, quartered lengthways and diced
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • a handful of herbs (I used rosemary, thyme & parsley) chopped
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin/jar cooked white beans(cannellini), drained & rinsed well 
  • 1/2 cabbage finely shredded
  •  a handful of swiss chard (acelgas) chopped
  • 1 & 1/2 litres veg stock
  • 100 gr dried pasta(you can use whatever you have broken spaghetti pieces are the original ) I used a little pine nut shaped pasta called  pinones
  • salt & black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • parmesan cheese shavings
  • you can add any parmesan rinds you may have in your fridge to the pan with the stock for extra flavour

In a large saucepan or frying pan heat 2 or 3 tbsp olive oil over a medium heat and throw in the onion, leek, carrot, celery, herbs & garlic with a big pinch of salt. Turn the heat down to low, stir everything to coat in the oil, put a lid on and cook gently for 25 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, season again with salt & black pepper and leave to cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile heat the veg stock in a separate saucepan. After the tomatoes have been cooking for 10 minutes add the boiling veg stock followed by the sliced cabbage, chard and the rinsed beans. Stir everything well, season again with salt & black pepper and leave to cook for 5 minutes. Add the pasta and leave to cook for about 10 minutes.

Serve in warmed bowls topped with shaved parmesan and celery leaves. A nice rustic bread and a glass of Italian red would be lovely to go with this and drizzle the soup with extra virgin olive oil at the table. Buon Appetito….

The oil in the picture above is the extra virgin olive oil we helped to harvest here. It is honestly the best olive oil I have ever tasted, really fruity. I will be putting it on everything from now on. Expect lots of recipes using olive oil in the near future!!

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