Warming minestrone

By Silvia Nacamulli, January 10, 2013
Photograph: Charles Taylor

Photograph: Charles Taylor

This is the perfect winter soup. The flavour comes from the slowly cooked soffrito, which is the base layer of many Italian dishes. 
The dish tastes even better if left for a day, and it freezes well too.
You can add or remove the vegetables to your taste. I leave them cut chunky, but you can also blitz the soup in a food processor if you prefer a smoother consistency.

Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Serves 6

5-6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3-4 carrots — 1 finely chopped, the others diced
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 anchovy fillets (optional)
Pinch of dry chilli (optional)
4-5 leaves of savoy cabbage, sliced
1 potato, diced
1 courgette, diced
100g green fine beans/broccoli, diced
400g tin borlotti/cannellini beans, drained
400g tin plum/chopped tomatoes
Approx 1.5 l boiling water
1 tbsp vegetable bouillon
100g peas
4-5 leaves fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Grated parmesan (optional)


Make the soffrito by heating the oil in a large soup pan and adding the onion, celery, one finely chopped carrot, and seasoning.

Cook on a low flame for 10 minutes, then add the garlic, the anchovy fillet and the chilli. Stir well.

Leave to cook for 5-8 minutes while you peel the potato and dice all the vegetables.

Add all remaining vegetables – besides the peas – to the soffrito. Cook for 5 minutes, stir well, and add the boiling water, the vegetable bouillon and a teaspoon of salt.

Cook, stirring occasionally, for 45-60 minutes over a low flame and partially covered, adding the peas and the basil in the last 10 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed.

Turn off the heat and leave to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve hot with parmesan or a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Visit www.cookingforthesoul.com for details of Silvia Nacamulli’s demonstration of the food of Venice on January 17 at Books for Cooks, London W11

Last updated: 2:45pm, January 10 2013