Minestrone Soup With Pesto

Serves 6

There are lots of different varieties of minestrone. They are made throughout the year using seasonal vegetables when appropriate. This minestrone can be made throughout the year and includes pesto stirred in at the last moment. If not using pesto then drizzle over some Parmesan. For Minestrone Milanese just add 200g arborio rice instead of pasta.


  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 50g smoked streaky bacon (optional)
  • 1 large red onion, peeled, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 200g green beans, finely chopped
  • 2 large zucchini, topped and tailed, finely chopped
  • 150g Swiss chard
  • 500g cooked cannellini beans (tinned will do, but rinse well)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1litre [13/4 pint] chicken stock or water
  • 150g malfatte or ditali pasta (optional)

To serve

  • Pesto or freshly grated parmesan
  • Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Cooking Instructions

In a wide thick based pan heat the olive oil over a medium heat and first cook the bacon until light golden brown, then add the onion, carrots and celery. Cook gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, so the vegetables soak up the olive oil. This mixture is known as ‘sofritto’, and is the holy trinity of Italian cuisine.

Add the green beans, zucchini, broccoli or chard and garlic, season with salt and pepper and mix, cooking for 10 minutes. Add the cannellini beans and cook for a further 10 minutes (you may need a little more oil). Add the stock or water so it covers the vegetables. Simmer gently, until all the vegetables are tender (the carrots will be the judge of that). At this point the minestrone can be prepared in advance and left to infuse. The flavour will improve if prepared in advance.

When ready to serve add the pasta to the boiling soup, add a cup more water so the pasta cooks in enough water and cook for one minute if fresh pasta or 5 minutes if using dried. Make sure the pasta is al dente and cook a little less if you are making this soup in advance. Add a tablespoon of pesto to flavour if using, and serve hot with pesto or Parmesan and a little olive oil.