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“There’s a whole world of minestrones out there — most of which follow very strict, authentic recipes. Personally, I feel that a minestrone should always reflect the seasons: more cabbagy, frumpy ones in the winter and lighter, more colourful ones in the spring and summer. A minestrone can also be a whole meal if you want it to be, with pasta, stale bread or rice to bulk it out. To complement the spring vegetables, I’ve put a bit of a Genoese twist on it, with a spoon of fresh pesto added at the last minute, so the flavours explode in your mouth. Give it a bash. ”
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 in half, seeds removed and finely sliced. Now you’re ready to rock and roll.
Drizzle 5 tablespoons of olive oil into a casserole pan and place on a medium heat.
Peel and finely slice the garlic, trim and finely chop the spring onions and add both to the pan with the fennel. Gently fry for 15 minutes without colouring.
Trim and finely slice the green beans, pod the peas and broad beans, and break up the pasta, then add to the pan with the rest of the prepared vegetables and the boiling stock.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes while you pick and finely chop the basil leaves and chives.
Season the soup with sea salt and black pepper, 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.