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With a dollop of fresh pesto
“Full of lovely greens, veg and herbs, this fresh take on minestrone soup sums up the best of spring ”
1.5 litres organic chicken, ham or vegetable stock
1 bulb fennel
100 g fine asparagus
2 Romanesco cauliflowers , or 1 large cauliflower
6 baby courgettes
6 plum tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic , finely sliced
1 bunch spring onions , finely chopped
100 g green beans , finely sliced
100 g yellow beans , finely sliced
100 g peas , podded
100 g broad beans , podded
100 g spaghetti , broken-up
freshly ground black pepper
1 small handful fresh green or purple basil
1 small handful fresh chives
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First, if you're going to make pesto do it now. Bring a pot of stock to the boil. Then you need to get all the vegetables prepared and put to one side. The fennel has to be halved, sliced and finely chopped, the asparagus needs to have the woody ends removed, the stalks finely sliced and the tips left whole, the cauliflowers need to be divided into small florets, the courgettes need to be quartered lengthways and finely chopped and finally the tomatoes need to be blanched. Cut them in half, remove the pips and finely slice. Now you're ready to rock and roll.
In a casserole-type pan (quite wide but not very deep) put 5 tablespoons of olive oil and heat the pan on a medium heat. Add the garlic, spring onions and fennel and gently fry without colouring at all for about 15 minutes. Then add the rest of your prepared vegetables, the pasta and your boiling stock. Bring to the boil, simmer for about 10 minutes, season, and serve in big bowls with a dollop of fresh pesto in the middle, a sprinkling of chopped basil and chives, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Try this: As you can see, the idea of this soup is to celebrate all the vegetables that are available at the time, so feel free to modify the soup and make it your own.
And this: A good way to break up your spaghetti is to wrap it in a tea towel and then run it over the edge of your work surface.
Did you know? The fact that everything is finely chopped means that the cooking time is very quick and the soup remains light and fresh.