Minestrone is a wonderfully versatile dish that works with whatever seasonal vegetables you happen to have to hand – just make sure the broth is flavourful enough to give the dish character, without overwhelming the other ingredients, and there’s enough starch to satisfy even the most active Tuscan goatherd.
3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to serve
1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 carrots, cut into 1cm dice
2 sticks of celery, cut into 1cm dice
Seasonal vegetables of your choice (at the moment, 1 courgette, diced, handful of fresh peas or broad beans, half a head of fennel, diced, 3 large leaves of cavolo nero, shredded)
1.5l good quality chicken stock
1 potato, cut into 2cm dice
100g cooked and drained borlotti beans
200g risotto rice
Grated parmesan and a few basil leaves, to serve
1. Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan and add the onion and garlic. Soften over a medium heat for 5 minutes, without allowing them to colour, then add the carrots and soften. Repeat with the celery.
2. Add the rest of the seasonal vegetables in order of cooking time (courgette and fennel will take longer than peas or fresh beans for example) and allow to soften slightly – they don’t need to cook through at this point. Stir in the potato.
3. Add the stock, the borlotti bean and rice. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until the potato and rice are cooked. Season to taste.
4. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, a grating of parmesan and some torn basil leaves. (If you make this ahead of time, you’ll find the rice swells to absorb much of the liquid, so it’s best to make it without the rice, then add it when you reheat it. Alternatively, you can loosen it with more stock.)