~ Minestrone Stew ~

minestronestew4

I call this Minestrone Stew because to call it a soup is to belie its incredible filling chunkiness: it really is almost more like a stew than a soup, especially the thin soups that you get from packets. a bowl of this fills us both adequately and is often on the menu – in fact Michiel chose it over fish and chips today! (its simmering in the kitchen as i type). This amount feeds 2, with leftovers.

Ingredients

minestronestew22 onions, peeled & chopped / 1 pepper, deseeded & chopped / 5 cloves garlic, peeled & chopped / half an aubergine, chopped / 2 sticks celery, chopped / 5 mushrooms, chopped / 1 leek, top n tailed, quartered down the length, then chopped / 1 small bottle of black olives, halved / handful frozen peas / small tin cannelloni beans, drained / tin chopped tomatoes / small pack bacon bits / mixed herbs / 2 tsp boullion / hot water from the kettle / couple finger’s width of long wholewheat spaghetti, snapped into inch long lengths / tomato puree / seasoning / oil, veg or olive / 1 large red chilli, deseeded and cut in half

Method

  1. Put 1 tbsp oil into a large pan – i use my pressure cooker – and bring up to a gentle heat. scoop the chopped onion and garlic in and cook 5 minutes, until translucent.
  2. put the peppers in, stir well, cook 5 minutes.
  3. Add the bacon bits, stir well, cook 5 minutes, till they’re starting to crisp up.
  4. Add the other veg, bit by bit.
  5. then add, in short order, the cannelloni beans, the pasta, boullion, mixed herbs, tomato puree, chopped tomato, seasoning and chilli halves, stir well, and top up with water till the mix is just about covered with water.
  6. bring to the boil, then turn down and simmer for half an hour.minestronestew3
  7. once cooked (check the pasta is cooked too), you can thicken with cornflour (2 tsp cornflour in a mug, *cold* water on top, stir well, then chuck into the stew and stir till it becomes thick) if you prefer a thicker sauce, spoon into large bowls and serve with chunks of good (preferably home cooked) bread for dunking in.

Notes

the olives and bacon make this dish already rather salty. please taste before adding seasoning. I personally don’t add salt to this – we find there’s enough already in there.

like many of my other dishes, feel free to change some of the ingredients. the essential ones are: onion, tomato, cannelloni beans, pasta, and leek. i add the other veg because without it would be a soup, not a stew, and i prefer the stew version. Feel free to leave the bacon out if you’re vegetarian.

if you have parmesan in the house, keep the rind, once the cheese has gone. its lovely to chuck the rind into one of these, it gives an extra depth of flavour. you can also grate parmesan on top.

this almost certainly isn’t authentic, but it works for us. 🙂

Economics

i buy most of the ingredients for this from Aldi – they sell 2 packs of bacon bits for 99p, together, so i split em. Olives are sold by them for 49p a jar, the jar is just the right size, i find. I also get chopped tomatoes from there – they seem to be less watery than the value equivalent from other stores. At Aldi they cost 25p. Cannelloni beans can be bought in tins from large supermarkets for 40p a tin, they don’t need any precooking this way. if you buy em dried, they’ll cost less, but they will need soaking and precooking. the pasta costs 31p for a whole packet, and it does about 6 to 8 of these meals. i reckon all told, the entire meal costs less than £2, and you can probably get 4 meals out of the amounts i’ve given here.

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