Recipes from food stylist Nicolas Ghirlando: Fish fingers to Friday nights.

Souper Minestrone

minestrone-vegetables-landscape
With spring barking at the door like an excitable, just woken puppy it’s time for fresh flavours. We’ve not been eating gruel all winter, but we have relied somewhat on spices and aromatic herbs to get us through. Now it’s time for green vegetables.

This soup is a nice mix between the more substantial dishes we eat in the cold weather and the lighter ones we are starting to have as the blossom appears on the trees. You can use whatever veg you fancy, but I’d advise sticking to ones with crunch rather than starch. I’d also advise you make your own pesto, but if you can’t be bothered, there are pretty good ‘fresh’ ones available.

Ingredients
6 rashers of smoked streaky bacon or pancetta
1 medium brown onion
A selection of vegetables such as cauliflower, courgette, carrots and a little sweet potato
A handful of cherry tomatoes
3l chicken or vegetable stock (preferably homemade, this soup relies on a good base)
8tbsp basil pesto
A huge grating of Parmesan

Method
Start by chopping the bacon into small pieces and do the same with an onion.
Cube your veg and set aside. I also found a couple of shallots and some green beans at the back of the drawer which went in.
Heat some olive oil in a large, deep pan and gently fry the bacon until it starts to crisp. You can then add the sweet potato cubes and the rest of the vegetables, apart from the courgette, if you’re using it. Courgette is a little flavour and crunch held together by water, you pretty much only want to cook this for seconds, so add it just before serving.

Pour in three litres of hot chicken or vegetable stock, bring to the boil then simmer for four to five minutes.
Add the courgette, turn the heat off and stir in the pesto and grate over much more Parmesan than you think you need. A good fifteen twists of black pepper and you can serve with more pesto and Parmesan on the side.

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