Literally meaning ‘big soup’, minestrone is a hearty Italian dish half way between a soup and a stew. Vegetable-based, it was traditionally made from leftovers and whatever was in the garden or foraged nearby, so feel free to use this recipe as a guide for your own inspiration. Beans or pasta, often both, add substance and make it more filling, as can a little rice; small pasta shapes are best, but you can use bits and pieces of leftover or broken pasta too. Cooking it in the soup adds flavour to the pasta while the starch it gives off thickens the soup. If you have homemade stock, use it as the base, otherwise just use water and let the vegetables flavour it. You could also poach a whole chicken to make stock and shred some of the meat into the soup. Freshly grated parmesan is optional – take inspiration from my friend Alessandro Pavoni and throw the parmesan rind in the pot for extra flavour (see him making his famous risotto in the video below). If, like me, you like a touch of heat, stir in some chilli too. Italy and Spain being close neighbours, I enjoy my chicken minestrone with a glass of Lustau Amontillado Sherry.
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