Friday, 17 October 2014

very grateful

minestrone was a favourite when i was doing my nursing training at the royal melbourne hospital in the late 60's and early 70's...exhausted and hungry after gruelling shift work my friends and i'd often walk to carlton for a bowl of minestrone (or bolognaise) was always served with plenty of crusty bread and butter..i started making it myself when i was living in the north of was a wonderful all in one nutritious, cheap, warming and hearty meal for me and my soldier husband..the recipe i used then was from elizabeth david's italian was one of four books i had at the time..the others were elizabeth david's french country cooking, the green and gold and a book on greek cooking

i'd forgotten about minestrone soup until this morning when i was thinking about how i'd use some stock i'd made earlier in the week..lots of options whirled through my head but when i thought about some of the other ingredients i had minestrone suddenly just popped into my head..

versatile minestrone
tea with hazel
serves about 6 people


2 litres stock (i used homemade)*
100 mls red wine
3 medium onions cut into medium dice
2 fresh garlic heads cut into quarters*
1/4 cabbage cut into large chunks
6 celery stalks cut medium (i used homegrown which have smaller stalks than most commercial celery)*
1 large carrot cut into medium dice
2 medium potatoes cut into medium dice
1/2 cup arborio rice
3-4 thin slices of double smoked bacon cut large (i used skara)
1 teaspoon (tsp) chilli*
2-3 tablespoons (tbs) organic tomato paste
8-10 dried tomatoes cut into medium pieces
parmesan rind cut into chunks
6 ruby chard leaves and stalks with stalks cut into medium pieces and leaves cut large*
large handful of rocket leaves*
1 cup fresh broad beans*
1-2 bay leaves
olive oil
salt and pepper

to serve

chopped parsley (i add it as a garnish because i find parsley goes an unpleasant dull colour when cooked) *
freshly grated parmesan
extra olive oil


~ saute bacon, onion, garlic, carrot, celery, cabbage, potato, chilli and bay leaves in olive oil until the onions are translucent
~ increase heat, add wine, and cook for a minute or so to burn off the alcohol
~ add stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, parmesan rind and rice and simmer for 20-25 minutes
~ just before serving add chard stalks and leaves, rocket and broad beans and cook until just tender
~ adjust seasoning

to serve

~ garnish with plenty of parsley, some parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil


* home grown or home produced ingredients

suggested alternative ingredients

~ replace the stock with water
~ use other leafy greens such as spinach, kale, mustard greens, nettles and dandelion
~ replace the tomato paste and dried tomatoes with passata or fresh tomatoes
~ replace the fresh broad beans with cooked dried beans such as haricot, lima or kidney beans
~ replace the rice with pasta or use both
~ omit the bacon
~ saute the vegetables in good quality bacon or pork fat

one of life's pleasures for me is turning my home grown produce into a wholesome's not about money per se..sure this soup cost very little..for me it's more about being in touch with the ebb and flow of seasonal produce..and growing my own keeps me firmly in touch with the hard graft of those 'on the land' who provide us with sustenance..i'm grateful..yeah that's it..very grateful.. 


  1. I'm grateful too. :) Lovely post, Jane! You're right, it's never about the money really, it's about the gloriousness of being connected to what we eat, and of having enough, and being warm and loved and nurtured. All emotions that a gorgeous bowl of soup such as yours evokes! x

    1. thanks celia..'gloriousness' is such a great word to describe how i feel too..x

  2. Great idea, minestrone, perfect for the change to autumn that we are going through this weekend. Am off to collect topinambour (Jerusalem artichokes) tomorrow. Another Autumn outing. Love knowing that the food comes from a local source!

    1. thanks for visiting joanne..autumn is such a beautiful season..what do you plan to make with the jerusalem artichokes?

  3. Sometimes soup is the only thing that will work when it comes to comfort. If you are exhausted, soup fits the bill. It also fits the bill when you have been out in the garden, busy as a beaver and dinner time disappeared thanks to (stupid) daylight savings still being fresh in your body clock and you realise that you have some in the freezer. I just cooked a huge pile of dried beans and I am going to make Minestrone for dinner tonight. The leftovers will fuel me on another evening when I have forgotten the time or am too tired from gardening all day to cook. Thank you for the wonderful share. Just reading your other comments and our Jerusalem artichokes are all starting to grow again. I have lots of them and they would be perfect in Minestrone (then you can't just blame the beans the next day ;) )

    1. i'm a bit of a soupaholic fran..i just love having a pot of soup in the's so good on busy days but it's also good when a daughter pops in, like one did yesterday, and be able to offer something nutritious and satisfying..x

  4. This looks so tasty and wholesome Jane...just like everything that comes out of your kitchen. I love that bowl too, is it enamel? Happy Sunday to you. x

    1. thanks jane..the bowl is enamel..i bought six of them on a visit to greece in 2011 from a very out of the way shop in monistiraki..i use them every day because they're a great size..i hope you had a lovely weekend..x

  5. Minestrone AND enamelware Jane...winning combo I say. xx