TLC minestrone soup with spinach pesto and extra amazing starry pasta
When your Dad finds you crying over badly roasted brussels sprouts, it's probably time to give yourself a bit of a break. Which is exactly what happened a few days after I arrived home for the holidays- I'd set out to make a warm, lunchtime salad with some of the best components of the winter harvest. Instead, I ended up with a plateful of greying lentils, butter beans and sprouts. It looked like a Pinterest nightmare. I was given a sherry and told to calm down, at which point I decided it might be a good idea to let Guac & Roll have a bit of a break from me over Christmas too. As much as I wanted to bake and cook and fold and whisk up every ingredient in my parents' kitchen, I realised time away from analysing every single thing I needed to cook and photograph would probably be a good thing. Especially after brusselssproutsgate. None of my family want to go back there again. So I am sorry things have been quiet on the Guac front over Christmas, but after nearly three weeks of R&R, sherry and mobster films, I'm super excited to share some ace January recipes with you, and I figured a TLC-themed minestrone soup would be the best way to begin!
Now minestrone is generally the winter bomb so far as comfort food goes, and I've kept this recipe really simple so that you can hopefully make it for under £5. You can always spruce things up a bit with fennel, borlotti beans or red wine, but this recipe should be the basics for a great soup that's cheap, hearty, filling, and cockle-warming. The pasta stars I found on New Year's day morning, mid- hangover food run in Sainsbury's. The pasta will soak up a lot of the liquid after cooking, so add it right at the end, and if you're freezing this soup, you can always add some more cartons of tomato sauce to thin out the soup again when you defrost.
Makes enough for 6 large portions
Olive oil for cooking
2 onions, one chopped small, the other left in strips
1 clove garlic, chopped small
1 tsp dried thyme
1tsp dried oregano
2 carrots, one chopped small, the other left in cubes
Around 200g potatoes, cubed
500ml vegetable stock
4 tomatoes, chopped in to strips
1 courgette, cubed
1 carton of 400g chopped tomatoes
200g mini pasta shapes such as stars
For the pesto:
200g washed and roughly chopped spinach
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
In a large saucepan, gently heat the olive oil with the onions and garlic, adding in the dried herbs. Saute for around 3 minutes, until the onions begin to turn translucent, before adding the carrot and stirring through. Add in the potatoes along with the vegetable stock and leave to simmer for 15 minutes.
Next add in the fresh tomatoes, courgette and carton tomatoes, and stir, allowing to simmer away for a further 10 minutes. When the potato is just cooked and is still firm, stir in the pasta and cook for another 2 minutes.
In a separate dish, add the roughly chopped spinach, olive oil and salt and pepper together, and blend using a hand blender, until it reaches a pesto consistency.
Serve up the minestrone soup with a swirl of the spinach pesto, and finish with toasted bread.