Minestrone

Ah Italy, my heart still makes a little jump when I think about the time I spend in the kitchen of my Italian mama.
About 3 weeks ago I told a good friend about my exchange program that made me live in the wonderful town of Padua for a while. I told him all about the relaxed atmosphere that was so normal there. We only had to attend school for 3 hours a day. So the rest of my days I spend with my best friend in museums, in parks, eating to much kinderchocolat, tasting all the different flavours of ice cream at the parlours and testing every cafe in town for the best cappuccino. The nights I spend with my Italian mama in the kitchen learning all about the multiple uses of fennel. When I close my eyes I can still taste the wonderful sandwiches she made me with tuna, mozzarella and fennel. By nine o’clock my Italian dad would bring out his Harley and drive me once again to the ice-cream parlour where we indulged ourselves in Ferrero rocher Ice cream.
Is it the sun? Or the lovely warmth of the first spring days on my arms? Or just the fact I talked about it with a friend? But my heart aces for those wonderful days of my youth. I might not have realised how wonderful it was at the time. Carefree… our biggest worry was getting the name of that beautiful butcher boy that sold wonderful spicy sausages in the marketplace. I remember us visiting Verona and the balcony of Juliet. It is said that when you hold her breast and you make a wish it definitely will come true. It did for me. I wished that my husband would finally notice that I excised and ask me out. As you all know he did. 🙂 But I also remember me surrounded by my wonderful group of friends having pasta and wine on a little terrace in the sun. To calm my acing hart down I made this wonderful Minestrone soup. A little bit of Italy right at home!

INGREDIENTS:1 red onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1 piece of ginger, diced
2 stacks of celery, diced
3 carrots, sliced in rounds
100 grams peas
2 potatoes, diced
1 can of canolli beans, drained and washed
1 can of cherry tomatoes (If you cant find these wonderful canned tomatoes, you can use regular tomatoes)
1 litre of chicken stock
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
200 ml red wine
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
1 tablespoon of Italian herb mix
1 teaspoon of dried basil
1 stack of rosemary
1 stack of thyme
2 fresh bay leaves (If you don’t have them in your garden like me, the dried version will do.)
1 teaspoon of cumin powder
30 grams of grated parmesan cheese
1 cup of pasta
olive oil
pepper and salt
Heat the olive oil in a large pot and add the onion, celery, ginger and garlic. Let it simmer until the onion becomes slightly translucent.
Now add the carrots and the potatoes and simmer these for a while.
Sprinkle in the fennel seeds, the Italian herb mix, the dried basil, the cumin powder, the rosemary, the thyme, the bay leaves, salt and pepper.
Poor over the red wine and bring this to the boil.
When the wine has evaporated a bit add the can of cherry tomatoes, the stock and the parmesan cheese.
Stir it all in and bring it back to the boil on a high heat.
Now add the beans, the peas and the tomato puree and let it all simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes you add the pasta and you let it boil for another 10 minutes.

I served the fragrant and delicious soup with a simple slice of ciabatta with some fresh garlic butter.

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