hearty minestrone soup

Serves 4-6   Approx time: 75 mins  


  • 800 ml chicken or vegetable stock, preferably organic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 rashers smoked streaky bacon or pancetta, chopped
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 2 small red onions, peeled and halved
  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • 2 sticks celery, trimmed
  • 1/2 fennel bulb
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch fresh basil, leaves picked and stalks finely chopped
  • 125 ml red wine
  • 2 small courgettes, quartered and sliced
  • 200 g spinach, washed
  • 400 g cannellini or borlotti beans, drained
  • 50 g mini pasta shapes
  • sea salt
  • black pepper, freshly ground
  • 20 g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, to serve
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 x 400 g tins of plum tomatoes



Start by bringing the stock to the boil in a small saucepan on a high heat, then reduce to a very gentle simmer. Make sure the stirrer attachment is in place in the HomeCooker pan, then set the temperature to 175°C. Sit the Plus unit alongside it with the coarse grater in place.

Once the pan has heated up, add the olive oil, bacon and bay, then set the timer for 7 minutes to fry the bacon. Switch on the Plus unit and run through the onion, carrot, celery and fennel into the pan (if you don't have a Plus unit, simply finely chop the veg by hand). Add the garlic and basil stalks, put the lid on slightly ajar and reduce the temperature to 130°C. Set the timer for 20 minutes so the vegetables are soft but not coloured.

When the time's up, add the tomatoes, red wine and courgettes to the pan and set the timer for another 15 minutes. Pour in the hot stock and add the spinach, beans and pasta. Set the timer for a further 15 minutes.

Check the soup and loosen with a splash of water if needed, then season to taste. Ladle between bowls, sprinkle over the basil leaves and grated Parmesan, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and serve.


I've used mini pasta shapes here, but I also have a jar full of all those mixed, broken bits from the end of pasta packets and they're perfect for recipes like this. Simply place your pasta in a small sandwich bag or wrap it in a tea towel and smash it up with a rolling pin before adding to the soup.

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