Autumnal Minestrone

Minestrone, which when translated literally means ‘big soup‘, is a seasonal soup that can be made of whatever ingredients are at hand. The only fixed characteristics of minestrone are that it should contain pasta and plenty of delicious stock. As such, it is to be expected that a dish so undefinable would have myriad different variations and this, of course, is true. However, tomatoes are unlikely to be found high up on the list of ingredients that really make minestrone sing.

Minestrone epitomises autumnal eating; it is the ‘throw everything in’ mind-set that I find particularly enchanting. For that reason, I don’t want anyone to feel too constrained by this recipe; add whatever you see fit. However, there are certain ingredients that should remain; the wine and bacon give it an exceptional rich and flavourful quality, whilst the carrots and onion (in this case leeks) provide it with hearty body.

If you’d prefer a vegetarian version of this minestrone, one could happily replace the bacon with one teaspoon of smoked paprika. Minestrone really is the ideal soup for every season.

Autumnal Minestrone

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

• 2 leeks, finely chopped

• 3 carrots, finely diced

• 2 sticks of celery, finely diced

• 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

• Olive oil

• 400g beans, haricot, borlotti or pinto work well

• 2 rashers of smoked bacon or pancetta, finely sliced

• A dash of white or red wine

• 2 bay leaves

• 2 tbsp fresh chopped herb (rosemary, thyme, basil or sage)

• 1 tomato, squished

• A knob of butter

• 100g tiny pasta or broken up spaghetti

• 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock

Method:

1. Pour a good amount of olive oil into a large pan. Add the leeks, carrots, celery, garlic, bacon and your herb of choice and sweat for 15 minutes – don’t allow them to brown. Add the wine, tomato, stock and bay leaves and cook for a further 10 minutes.

2. Tip in the pasta, butter and beans. Cook until the pasta is done. Season and serve immediately with a little bread and parmesan.

Cost: None of the ingredients for this dish are particularly expensive; they are fairly seasonal after all. Indeed, even with wine and bacon included, this large pot of soup should set one back around £2.50, a mere trifle compared to Herr Heinz’s fare.

153 thoughts on “Autumnal Minestrone

  1. mandaray

    This looks delicious! Unfortunately when you say “minestrone soup” in America, the result is usually the weird tomatoey concoction that you speak of. While I dearly love tomatoes, sometimes I need (and want!) a break. So this is definitely something I will be trying out this winter. :) Thank you!

      1. mandaray

        Agreed! Tomatoes can be delicious in soups, but not necessarily *every* soup…especially if you’re like my mom. Tomatoes usually give her really bad indigestion, plus she dislikes acidic foods. So a lot of soups are out of her reach because everyone’s so busy shoving tomatoes in them.

        1. frugalfeeding

          Quite! Ahha! I do love tomatoes, but not all the time. Though, I’d never get tired of fresh tomatoes sprinkled with salt, pepper and olive oil.

          1. mandaray

            Oh, that sounds lovely. I think the tastiest thing I ever made with tomatoes was when we had a few growing in our garden a couple of years ago. They were so sweet and delicious. I cut them up and put them in a pot with some white wine and salt…best spaghetti sauce I’ve ever eaten. I pretty much just wanted to drink it.

  2. narf77

    I find minestrone to be one of those soups that you can eat all year round. Much like a hot cup of tea on a hot day, it seems to act like curries do in hot countries…nourishing and simple and delicious at the same time. We never eat tinned or packet soup now that we know how delicious home made soups can be. Aside from the delicious factor, they are also incredibly thrifty and we often freeze our leftovers for future degustation with home made crusty bread. I love that minestrone contains beans and other pulses…throw in enough of them and you don’t even need the meat ;). We learned how delicious smoked paprika can be in soup last year when we were experimenting. We made an approximation of pea and ham soup minus the ham (I am vegan) and it was amazing. As a cook in a past life, I can’t get past the fact that soup is where restaurants make their money (and desserts). Using tinned soup is only going to cost us in the long term both in taste and nutritionally. Love the post and as its suddenly taken a turn for the worse here in Tasmania (typical spring weather here) Brunhilda is being fired up again for at least a week to cope with the cold…they are even forcasting snow on the mountains! I blame me doing the washing! This delicious recipe is most definatly on the cards for this week :)

      1. narf77

        I only give great comments to great posts :) We made our version of this soup that night and it was heady nutritious and soul satisfying. I have mine with a liberal pile of steamed potatoes (It’s the German in me lol ;)) and Steve has his with fresh bread and butter (the English in him ;)). I will go on the record as saying that there is NOTHING better on a freezing cold night when you have been out working all day in the great outdoors than a steaming hot never ending bowl of home made soup. Apparently (this only applies to men) men who eat soup for 1 meal a week live 7 years longer than men who don’t. I figure it’s the happiness quotient kicking in ;)

        1. frugalfeeding

          Well, thanks! Sounds wonderful! Glad you liked it. I definitely agree… though I don’t tend to work outside… Well, I eat plenty of soup. If I ate it three times a day every day would I, correspondingly, live an extra… 147 years?

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  4. ceciliag

    I have said it before and I will say it again, i love the word – autumnal- just beautiful, especially when it precedes the word minestrone. One of my favourite soups. And I don’t make it often enough.. I shall this week. Thank you hon.. c

  5. Bam's Kitchen

    Looking at your autumnal picture, I can smell the fall crisp scent in the air and crunch of leaves at my feet even though I sit jet lagged at my computer here in steamy Hong Kong. Loving minestrone soup as it is so versatile. When I was in Italy this last week, they used the scraps from the homemade noodles that were irregular in shape to this soup. Nothing goes to waste in Italy. Take care, BAM

  6. Patch

    Ooooo that looks goooood. I have a recipe for a French soup called Pistou which is very similar to minestrone and always tastes SO much better. I have had a busy and tiring weekend and need the restorative power of soup today so I will be off to make some right now.

  7. Alexia @ NamasteYoga

    oh wow you must have super brightened up your photos! looking fantastic this soup! there is nothing better than a good warming minestrone in a fall night. yum

  8. kendraalyse

    This, my friend, is getting some serious spot lighting on my dinner table this fall. I’m all about the soups this season, and I can’t wait to make this for my first time. Thanks

  9. Villy

    Yes, that’s what I’m talking about! It’s not heavy autumn here yet (very light actually..), but I can’t wait to dig into those soups! It looks delicious!

  10. Shira

    Look at this – both of us talking about Heinz in the same week – it MUST be fall! Time to bust out delicious home favorites…this soup has moved to the top of my ‘desire to make’ list :) It looks so amazing!

  11. Kimby

    A bowl of this minestrone followed by a slice of your blackberry cheesecake would be a delicious way to celebrate autumn. Thanks for your tip on substituting smoked paprika for bacon, too!

  12. Somer

    I adore a good minestrone! Love this Nick, I’m seriously sad that I don’t have any of that tiny pasta in my pantry! Broken spaghetti just isn’t as endearing ;)

  13. Willow

    I concur. There’s nothing like good soup in the fall, and most of the store-bought ones just don’t cut it. Your minestrone, on the other hand, sounds absolutely perfect… love the addition of bacon, too. In the cooler weather, one needs a little richness!

  14. artisticmilestone

    Finally, a minestrone thats not “red”. Thank you for stopping by my blog, I love new visitors :) Hmm…I know you said that adding the wine is a must but I’m going to try without it so I can share it with my 1 yr old, hope it’ll taste good too. Thanks for sharing the recipe :)

  15. wavensongz

    Thanks for stopping by and liking my blog. You are aware this soup is on my list for comfort food. And now with the temp. down to 38 tonight it’s on for dinner tomorrow night. Thanks ;-)
    I know I will enjoy your recipe.

  16. Susan

    I have to confess I like adding overripe fall tomatoes to my minestrone, although it’s not a “must.” Another way to infuse a smoky flavor into your soup is to pan roast the onion or leek until brown before adding. (I was a vegetarian for many years, although you’d never know it now!)

  17. Marcia Davis

    Love the recipe and also the suggestion for smoked paprika in lieu of bacon. Although I’m a meat eater, I often cook for vegetarians and look for ways to keep the flavor that meat offers. Thanks!

  18. Christina Hamlett

    Yum! I wish Pasadena had more than one season. It’s almost the end of October and it would be wonderful to sit down with a nice hearty bowl of this soup and some garlic bread. Hmmm…maybe we could turn on the air conditioning full-blast, have a fire in the fireplace and pretend!

  19. Deauna

    Thanks for stopping by and liking my post.

    I’m glad I read this! I had no idea the base for Minestrone wasn’t mostly tomatoes. I’m more likely to try it now as I don’t particularly care for tomato-based soups anyway.

    And smoke paprika is the best!

  20. mamaraby

    I’ve given up on canned soups in general. I make an except from Pacific Natural Foods’ soup in the cartons. Otherwise, the soup you can find at the store is largely forgettable. This one looks fantastic. I used to shy away from Minestrone until I had one from Jessica Prentice’s “Full Moon Feast” which is still my favorite, but I’m going to have to give yours a try!

  21. Audrey

    Hi Frugal – I just made a minestrone last week…gluten free of course. It was my first attempt and enjoyable but I must remember to add more stock as it was more a stew than a soup.

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