One thing I can’t do is leftover soup. Don’t ask me why. Perhaps it’s the fact that a lot of soups sort of congeal into a slippery, stodgy looking, unattractive mass when refrigerated. Perhaps it’s the sight of waterlogged pieces of veg or meat floating like so many corpses in cold broth that turns me off. (Not that I've ever actually seen a floating corpse, but I watch a lot of Midsommer Murders.) I suppose it’s a question for the ages and best left alone, lest I turn anyone else off.
I think the one exception for me is a decent minestrone. Not any old minestrone, but one that I know the providence of. Seriously. The issue for me is that so many versions of minestrone seem to contain too many indiscernible ingredients tied together by mushy shell pasta and labelled ‘minestrone’ as if that’s meant to comfort and convince. I won’t touch it with a ten foot barge pole. Or soup spoon for that matter.
Minestrone should have a clean, strong, wholesome feel about it. It should be hearty and satisfying. It shouldn’t be strewn with random vegetable matter, but with carefully combined ingredients. The pasta should go in at the end, having been par-cooked and drained. If meat is included, it should not be great, soaking, sinewy chunks. Minestrone should be able to count as a meal all on its own and able to stand up for itself the next day. But for that to happen, you need a solid recipe. Here’s mine, based on years of contemplation.
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 cup potato, diced
1 cup carrot, diced
2/3 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup red capsicum, diced
1 x 400g tin kidney beans
1 x 400g tomatoes (crushed or chopped)
1 raw chorizo, diced (optional)
1 sprig thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
1/2 tsp smoked sweet paprika
enough beef or vegetable stock to cover ingredients
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup small shell pasta, par cooked and drained
This is completely simple. Lightly brown the onion, garlic and chorizo together in a large pot. Throw in all the other ingredients and cover with stock. Let it simmer gently until the veg starts becoming tender but not soggy. Once the soup is cooked, add the pasta. The pasta will soak up the juices and flavours and soften so you don't need it to be too soft to start with.