Easy Minestrone

So my body transformation challenge is locked in and ready to go mid-June. I’m somewhat apprehensive but also excited – I usually indulge in too much comfort eating during the cooler months, and so having someone monitor my intake and/or having an element of competitiveness will mean I’m more ready for bikini season towards the end of the year 😉

In the meantime, I’ve been trying to eat as much as I can of the food I will miss while on the challenge – burgers, pasta, rice, dessert. I made this minestrone soup a couple of weeks ago because I was in the mood for something filling and wholesome – with a naughty bit of pasta. I will probably still be able to eat something similar to this on the challenge, maybe substituting the pasta for something like farro or barley.

The original recipe is a completely vegetarian one, but if you like to add some speck or bacon, dice it up finely and add it in when you cook the carrots and onions. There was also way too much pasta for me in the original recipe – which meant it soaked up all of the soup in the space of one afternoon. I have halved the amount of pasta below, and if you don’t eat it in one sitting I would advise for you to strain out the cooked machheroni with a sieved ladle and place in a box to refrigerate. Then when you want to reheat the soup, you can add in the cooked pasta without it becoming too mushy.

Serves 4-6

You will need:

  • 1 carrot, diced;
  • 1 brown onion, diced;
  • 1 garlic cloves, finely chopped;
  • 1 zucchini, sliced thickly into half-moons;
  • 1 can of red kidney beans, rinsed;
  • 1 can diced tomatoes;
  • 3 fresh Roma tomatoes, chopped;
  • 100g machheroni pasta (or any small pasta);
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary;
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano;
  • 1 vegetable stock cube/1 teaspoon vegetable stock;
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika;
  • 5 cups of water;
  • 120g Parmesan, shaved;
  • Olive oil;
  • Salt and pepper.

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Place the carrot, onion, garlic (and speck/bacon, if using), into a large hot saucepan with a generous drizzle of olive oil. Stir through, cooking for 3 minutes or so until aromatic.

Add the beans, diced tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, oregano, rosemary and paprika. Add the vegetable stock, water, and stir all the ingredients through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover the pot with a lid, bring the soup to a boil then reduce the heat and cook for 15 minutes.

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After 15 minutes, add the pasta and the zucchini, stir through and cook for 8 minutes (or until the pasta has cooked through) covered with a lid (add more water at the end if necessary).

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Season with extra salt and pepper and serve with a bit of grated Parmesan on top of each serving. I like a very generous grind of chilli salt flakes on top of mine as well!

This soup is best eaten on the day (within the hour, really) of making as the pasta does absorb the soup at an alarming speed. If not eating all of it at once, strain the pasta out and refrigerate, to be added back into the soup upon reheating.

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