What is the cure for being ill? Chocolate! No okay, soup! I couldn’t have planned this meal any better. I was off sick from work today with this chest infection and conjunctivitis. My chest is sore and it’s still a bit hard to breathe and my vision is still wonky. Nothing is as comforting as a hot bowl of homemade soup to clear the tubes and warm the belly.
I was grateful how easy this soup was to make. When you’re poorly the last thing you want to do is spend loads of time in the kitchen cooking. The Hairy Bikers got this down to a tee, the meal took me roughly under 45 minutes to cook. Again, I apologise I didn’t keep an eye on the clock as Naomi had just got home from nursery so I was bouncing between cooking and getting her ready for bed. This is also meant to be a one pan meal which saves on washing up. Though, my silly self forgot I had a nice big soup pot and so I used a frying pan and a large saucepan. Ah well, I know for next time. The last great thing about this soup? 98 caolories per serving (115 if you have cheese on the top)! Can’t go wrong with that can you? That means you can have a nice crusty cob along with it if you wanted and not feel bad about the calories. Get in.
The recipe calls for the following ingredients:
- 4 ripe tomatoes
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 celery stick, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled & finely sliced
- 1 leek, trimmed and finely sliced
- 2 medium courgettes, diced
- 1.5 litres of chicken stock
- 50g dried spaghetti
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 200g frozen peas
- 100g curly kale or cabbage, thickly shredded
- 25g parmesan cheese, finely grated (optional)
- fresh basil leaves (optional)
- salt and pepper
I’m noticing a regular theme here, I can never get all the ingredients when I make a recipe! Sods law innit? I couldn’t
find celery to save my life, I went to 3 stores and all of them were sold out. To the person eating all the celery in the West Midlands, please stop. My kale also went off and I had to throw it out tonight. I was taking a risk by not buying another bag, but I had the right amount left over from last week and was hoping it would keep. So, to compensate I used a third courgette in the recipe. I love courgette, so not a complete let down!
I prepped all the ingredients before the mister and Naomi got home. I will note here that I used wholewheat spaghetti, but that is purely personal preference. I also used Kallo organic low sodium chicken stock cube for the chicken stock. I try to shy away from salt where I can, I don’t use it in cooking and try to avoid it in bought ingredients. Again, this is just personal preference and you can use any sort of chicken stock you like – even freshly made! Right, since everything was prepped it was time to start cooking. Now as I stated above, this is meant to be a one pan meal. Ideally you would use a large stewing pot on the stove to make this.
As the oil was heating up in a frying pan, I covered the 4 tomatoes in boiling water for a minute or so. The book says if they’re ripe, which mine were, the skins would shrink back off the flesh. Mine didn’t which started my hatred of tomatoes for the evening. I set the tomatoes to the side to cool while I started frying the onions. You have to be careful with the onions as you want them soft but not coloured, so plenty of stirring is needed. While I was frying the onion I started to peel the tomatoes. Have you peeled a tomato before? I hadn’t nor do I want to again, it felt disgusting and wrong. Now, you’re meant to scoop out the seeds so that all you’re left with is the tomato flesh and then dice them up. I scooped out all the visual seeds but oh my days the amount of seeds and liquid that went squirting around the chopping board was phenomenal. I’m guessing I somehow did this wrong or I had super mutant tomatoes with hidden seeds. I’m going with super mutant tomatoes.
Once the onions were soft, I added in the garlic, leek and courgettes to the frying pan and cooked for about 5 minutes. The recipe only calls for this to be cooked for a few minutes, but as I had extra courgette the pan was rather full and I wanted to make sure it all had time to cook. I added in my super mutant tomatoes and gave it a mix before transferring it to the saucepan. Next I covered the veggies in chicken stock, stirred in the tomato puree and brought all to a boil. At this point I noticed the lovely smell coming from the veggies. It also got me thinking that this recipe doesn’t really call for any seasoning aside from salt and pepper. Any minestrone I’ve ever eaten had strong flavours to it, so this was a little strange to me but I went with it.
After the soup was bubbling away, I broke the spaghetti into small pieces and mixed it in. This was left to cook for 8 minutes before I added in the frozen peas. At this point the soup was looking as if it was about to spill out of the pan. It was also the point I remembered I had a large stewing pot and started cursing myself, well done me. After 5 minutes I seasoned the soup with black pepper and served. We did have a bit of parmesan cheese on the top, but literally just a sprinkling so I doubt our serving was 115 calories, we’ll call it even at 105. The soup looked lovely, albeit rather chunky due to my extra courgette.
The hubs was a bit apprehensive about the soup as he doesn’t cope well with veggie meals if it doesn’t have a faux meat element. His response was, “this would be nice with some meat in it.” I kindly reminded him minestrone doesn’t have meat and he grunted. It was a very filling soup but as I thought, it was a bit bland. Don’t get me wrong, it tasted really good but it was missing something. Oregano maybe or some Italian seasoning perhaps, which I will experiment with again. The soup is meant to serve 6, but due to the fact I couldn’t quite get 1.5 litres of water in because of my pan issue and possibly the extra courgette, this only split to 5 servings. Okay so maybe ours was around 115 calories. What am I kidding, do I care? Nooooope, it’s still under 300 calories so I’m really not bothered!
Give this soup a whirl! It’s so simple to make, if you don’t have mutant tomatoes, and is perfect for a rainy day. This will freeze well too so you can take it out whenever you fancy a bit of soupy comfort. This is also the first soup I’ve made that didn’t need to stew and simmer for hours to absorb flavours, which is perfect. As nice as homemade soups are, sometimes the prep can take ages and you have to cook it all day long. In under an hour you can have this minestrone soup in your belly while you’re snuggled up under a fleece with a brew next to you, ace.