I was never any good at maths at school but I do love a good minestrone and now the nights are drawing in, I hate to have to admit it but it’s even getting a bit colder. However, all is not lost because I’ve just picked the borlotti beans I planted in my veg patch way back in the spring – that’s what’s so brilliant about seasonality! I’ve started growing my own veg for the first time this year and, being a complete novice, I got all excited in the spring and planted quite a few things, which all came to fruition: rainbow chard (my favourite), lettuces (definitely my favourite), runner beans (a bit boring?), loads of herbs and – borlotti beans. Then, I suddenly realised it’s September and I have completely missed the planting- lovely-things-that-will-keep-on-giving boat for the rest of the year but I did manage to get a few rows of cabbages in so I can’t wait for spring.
Anyway, back to minestrone and another recipe, kind of. If you haven’t grown any borlotti beans, you can buy them dried and soak them overnight (fresh ones are hard to find but dried are very good). Cook the beans in a good amount of water with a carrot, an onion, a stick of celery, a couple of cloves of garlic, bay, thyme, a red chilli, a tomato and a good slug of olive oil, until they are really soft. Don’t add any salt until the end of cooking as it will toughen them. The resulting liquid is amazingly tasty, and will provide the stock for your soup. Then all you need is a base: finely dice some carrot, onion and celery with bit of garlic and fry gently in olive oil until soft: this is what we call the holy trinity (not includng the garlic) and forms the basis for loads of delicious soups and stews.
When the beans are cooked, fish out the vegetables, except the tomato which will give
acidity and flavour to the minestrone. Pour the beans and stock over the base and warm through. If you have some greens like chard, spinach or cavolo nero (an Italian cabbage), chuck that in a the last minute and cook through. Eat the minestrone with dollop of pesto and a slug of good olive oil.