3.1 Zuppa di Verdure
Zuppa di Verdure is a light, healthy soup that really makes the best of fresh produce. OK, I know it contains stock cubes, but if you happen to have a litre of homemade chicken stock in your freezer, by all means use it. I’m not a huge fan of vegetable stock but if that’s your preference, I won’t argue.
Italians refer to this soup as a ‘minestra’, although in Italy I have never been served the tomato-based gloop that sometimes passes for minestrone here.
- 2 medium carrots, peeled
- 2 sticks of celery
- 1 large onion, peeled
- 1 medium potato, peeled
- 1 small parsnip, peeled
- 1 medium leek
- 1 small courgette, cut in half lengthways
- ½ a small spring cabbage or, more authentically, cavolo nero, chopped into 1 cm pieces
- 150 g green beans, cut into 1 cm lengths
- 150 g fresh peas, or frozen if fresh aren’t available
- 1 handful of coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1 × 400 g can of borlotti, haricot, or flageolet beans (your choice), drained and rinsed
- ¼ teaspoon of dried sage
- ¼ teaspoon of dried tarragon
- ¼ teaspoon of dried thyme
- Olive oil for frying. Good olive oil for serving!
- 2 litres of stock (chicken or vegetable). Use 3 stock cubes in 2 litres of boiling water if real stock is not available
- Salt to taste (diners can add pepper if they wish. It becomes a little too fierce if added during cooking.)
- 25 g Parmesan cheese, finely grated, plus extra for serving (optional)
- Dice the carrots, celery, onion, potato, parsnip, leek and courgette into roughly 7mm cubes.
- Gently fry the diced vegetables in the olive oil but do not let them brown.
- When they are about half cooked, add the stock, the remaining vegetables, the herbs and, if using, the 25g of Parmesan.
- Bring the soup to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender – perhaps 15 minutes.
- Add the beans and cook for 5 more minutes.
- Serve with a swirl of your best extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of Parmesan over each bowl.
- This soup will reheat the next day, but it really does not freeze well as the vegetables turn mushy when defrosted.
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