As far as the Second Pancake is concerned, Tim is the Michelangelo of cooking. Everything's in perspective. He delivers beautiful, balanced, and truly satisfying food. The metaphor will make even more sense when he puts up his recipe for marble cake (you'll need a chisel) or the rhubarb pie he can only make over the course of several years lying on his back at the top of a chapel. I, however, am more along the lines of Jackson Pollock. I've got all the disorder, chaos, and mess of his work (though very little of the beauty, orchestration, or design). It is for this reason that you'll never be getting a recipe for soufflé or risotto from me. Minestrone, on the other hand, is right up my alley.
It's a mongrel of a soup, the old 'strone. A dog's breakfast. And, in the more literal sense, a human's lunch. My lunch, in fact. It's perfect for winter days when it's too cold to go shopping, you're too tired to put in much effort, and two carrots are poking their heads out of the crisper, begging to be used before they turn into sad, sorry, spongy semblances of their former selves. I'm sure there is, in some arcane tome, the original recipe for minestrone. I'm sure at one point it was possible to say what is and what is not minestrone. No more. The way it's going now, I'd be hard pressed to find a reason why a sock in a bucket can't call itself part of the long line of mighty and miserable minestrones. And that's just how it should be. Do you have water, a turnip, tomatoes and cumin? Hey, throw it in a pot and call it minestrone. Celery, lentils, and limes? Why not? Minestrone.
All this being said, I guess there are a few guiding lights for the minestrone faithful. Tomatoes are usually a good bet, plus some kind of beans, and I guess a bit of pasta and some veggies wont go astray. The beauty being that you have infinite capacity for experimentation. Is your pantry carrying carrots? Chop 'em up and toss 'em in. An abundance of asparagus? An excess of eggplants? A profusion of peas? A copiousness of courgettes? An oversupply of aubergines? A bounty of beans? A tendency to overdo simple alliterative wordplays? Whatever it is, let the magical gods of minestrone turn it into something delicious.
Given that this soup will always change depending upon what's in your cupboard, it's a little ridiculous to post a recipe. That being said, I can guarantee that if you put these things together and make them hot, they will taste divine:
Rowan's Ravishing MinestRowan-e
- Red onion
- Sweet potato
- Pasta (I like little penne rigate, but whatever floats your boat)
- Kidney beans
- Cannellini beans
- Beef stock1
- Lime zest and juice
- Salt, pepper, lemon pepper, cumin
- Fresh basil, parsley, and loads of coriander (cilantro)
The cooking bit is about as tricky as tipping water out of a boot if the instructions are written on the heel:
Put the onion, garlic, and dry spices in olive oil and make it hot until they smell
Put the hard veggies in until they get a bit soft
Add water, stock, pasta and soft veggies,
When it's been simmering away long enough that the most distant corner of your house smells delicious, ladle out a bowlful, give it an extra dose of cracked pepper, add a
few toasted pine nuts, and start dipping thick slabs of buttery toast into your new concoction. The rest of the soup (you did make fifteen litres or so, right?) can go into every tupperware container you've got, thereby giving you delicious winter lunches for the next week.
(1) If you happen to have an old ham bone that you can let stew overnight to make
your own stock, all the better.