Minestrone is perhaps the greatest way of bringing together the best of seasonal produce in one dish. My last recipe for this ‘big soup’, Autumnal Minestrone, unified leeks, beans and carrots in a delicious broth, which proved to be pleasantly warming and hearty. This springtime rendition lightens things up a little with fennel, peas and spring onions, evoking the time of year in both colour and flavour.
As noted in my previous minestrone recipe, you needn’t loyally follow the ingredients listed below. For instance, asparagus and cauliflower are both coming into season in Britain and small slices/florets of each would combine perfectly with the essence of the dish. If you intend to add asparagus to the mix, try to stay British (if in Britain), as you’re likely to purchase a crisper shoot. Indeed, there’s some exceptional Wye Valley asparagus in most green grocers at the moment (In Bristol, at least).
Whatever form your minestrone takes, make sure to keep it season as it’s the whole point of the exercise. Besides, being fully aware of seasonal produce can really help keep food expenditure down as supply of certain ingredients increases during defined times of the year. An added benefit of shopping with seasonality in mind is that your vegetables and fruit and likely to be at their best. For instance, in the summer strawberries will be at their sweetest and most vibrant and in spring asparagus at its crispest.
n.b. I hope you like my new green bowls! (£2.99 each, down from £15)
• 1 onion, finely sliced
• 1 stick of celery, finely sliced
• 1 bulb of fennel, roughly chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic, mashed
• 1 tomato, squished
• 50g of bacon or pancetta, finely chopped
• 1-1.5 litres chicken stock
• 2 bay leaves
• A few sprigs of fresh thyme
• 100g dried spaghetti, broken up
• 30g butter
• 80g garden peas
• 2 spring onions, finely sliced
• Olive oil
1. Begin by frying your onion, celery, fennel and garlic in a good slosh of olive oil. Once soft add the bacon/pancetta and allow to colour a little. Add the tomato and 1 litre of the stock, bay leaves, thyme and butter. Leave to simmer for half an hour with the lid on.
2. Remove the thyme twigs, add the spaghetti and cook until soft. Tip in the peas, boil for a further 5 minutes, top up with more stock if necessary, season and serve topped with spring onions.
Cost: As a hearty, seasonal soup, this minestrone performs in every category of frugal feeding. Indeed, the entire pot, plenty for four, should set you back no more than around £3.20 – a truly cost-effective treat!