Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Recipe Corner - Winter Minestrone soup (just in time for spring...)

Providing a soup recipe always feels like a bit of a cop out. I mean, the basic premise of soup is: cook ingredients, blitz, consume. But a hearty, tasty soup is the dieter’s friend. Soup is, apparently, more filling than consuming food and water separately. It said so on the BBC website. But I could have told you that from anecdotal evidence; I NEVER have soup as a starter when I go out to eat because I never fancy a full meal afterwards.

This soup is particularly robust, and you get a generous portion for the points. I do recommend blitzing some of it, which is not usual with any sort of minestrone, because the whizzed up potatoes and beans provide an almost creamy texture which makes the soup feel more luxurious than otherwise.

If you have the points the pesto croutons are a lovely addition.


For the soup:
Tbsp olive oil
90g (approx 3 rashers) back bacon, chopped
200g (approx 1 medium) potato, peeled and diced
1 tin (200g drained weight) of haricot beans (drained and rinsed)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
Onion, peeled and chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tin of tomatoes
750ml chicken stock
2 tsp dried sage
40g Parmesan cheese, finely grated

For the croutons:
4 slices of bread from a medium white loaf, cut into squares
Tbsp olive oil
40g pesto sauce

Serves 4, 5 pro points per portion for the soup with an additional 5 pro points per portion for the pesto croutons

Chop your vegetables as desired – I prefer a fine dice for this sort of soup.

Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the bacon and onion for about five minutes. Keep the heat quite low so that the fat renders from the bacon and the onion turns golden brown.

Now add the carrot, celery and potato dice and the crushed garlic and cook for a few more minutes.

Next go in the tomatoes, stock and sage, plus seasoning as required (remember the stock and the bacon will be quite salty), bring to the boil and then reduce and simmer for around 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, drain and rinse the beans and prepare your croutons. Slice the bread into squares, mix the oil and the pesto and toss the bread in the mixture. Season. Preheat the oven to 180.

After 30 minutes, add the beans to the pan and continue to simmer. Place the croutons in the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes. Grate the Parmesan.

Just prior to removing the croutons from the oven, take about a third of the soup (ensuring you have a good range of the diced ingredients) and whizz up in a blender until smooth. Return to the pan. Check the seasoning, adding more salt, pepper or sage as necessary.

Serve, sprinkled with Parmesan and the pesto croutons (or not, if you’re feeling virtuous).

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