Hearty Christmas minestrone

Way too healthy looking for a festive meal...
  • Left over meals made since Christmas: 4 (plus 3 more in freezer)
  • Post Christmas day food thrown away so far: Two bags of rocket and a punnet of sweaty mushrooms.

OK, so not so exciting but still a good use of leftovers that would otherwise go to waste and makes a healthy respite from the over indulgence. What makes it Christmas Minestrone? The sprouts of course!

It’s a formula that’ll work with most veggies and when I look through my copy of the Silver Spoon I get the feeling that there are as many minestrones as there are towns in Italy. This recipe also uses up one of those things I always find stuffed at the back of the fridge; half a tin of baked beans decanted into a tuppaware container!

Begin by surveying your fridge for some likely candidates for the pot, look behind things there’s bound to be something hidden behind all that Christmas cheese! I had some garlic, thyme, rosemary, a ropey looking carrot, an onion, a handful of green beans, a few sticks of celery, a red pepper, sprouts, cavelo nero and tomatoes. I also had half a dozen slices of streaky bacon.

Start with capturing the flavour. Add olive oil and a knob of butter to a large pan. Chop up the streaky bacon, garlic and herbs and add to the pan, cook the bacon until crispy and then remove with a slotted spoon leaving in the flavoured oil, herbs and garlic. Retain the bacon but leave it somewhere out of reach as you’ll soon find it depleted! Next add all the veggies bar the cavelo nero leaves and toms (sprouts shredded rest chopped into medium dice including the stalks of the cavelo nero). Sweat these off to bring out the sweetness. After 5 mins or so add some good stock (I  used some of the Turkey stock I made plus veg stock) and a heaped tea spoon of tomato puree; bring to the boil skim off any impurities and then add some pasta (I used up some macaroni), simmer until pasta is al dente. At this point wash the baked beans in a seive and add to the soup. Now I know this sounds a bit dodgy but the washed beans retain some of that tomato sauce and add a nice earthiness. Add the cavelo nero and chopped tomatoes and take off the heat. Serve and top with the crispy streaky bacon.

Left for a few hours this really thickens up and If you’ve got some stale bread add this to give a nice hearty ribollita feel.

Jo’s constructive critique: “…hearty and pleasant, but not really that Christmassy!” Ok, next year I’ll add a mulling kit!

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