I didn’t know what to call this soup. I saw it as a light bean and pasta soup, which to me is a minestrone but I feared that most associate minestrone with a thick stew-like tomato soup with vegetables and pasta which this is most certainly not.
So I set about researching online a soup of this type and what to name it. It was clear it was by definition a version of a minestrone which has very few rules except a base of preferably fresh vegetable but also a use of all the produce remnants from squash to cabbage which is only further varied between regions of Italy.
I came across what I thought was a wonderful article where I fell in love with the words “Nothing comforts quite like a warming bowl of beans, vegetables and pasta, cooked together so long that the beans taste of carrot and the carrots taste of olive oil.”. It was also here that I was encouraged by the reminder of Nigella’s famous recipe where she ‘ “resolutely” refuses to use any tomatoes, instead asking us to soften a succession of vegetables…before cooking to “honeyed savouriness”.’ Alas, I had the confidence to offer my humble bean, vegetable and pasta soup entitled a minestrone but with the suffix alla Toscana highlighting the very Tuscan tradition of adding beans to a minestrone.
Luckily, this version tastes great without 2-3 hours on the stove and can be ready and delicious in as little as 35 minutes. Equally however, it won’t suffer for a long simmer (it’ll need extra water) or a slow cooker preparation.
Ingredients: Serves 4
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil (optional)
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into roughly 1.5 cm rounds
- 1 large stick of celery, diced
- 2 fat cloves of garlic, crushed
- 4 large stems fresh rosemary, stripped and roughly chopped
- A handful of fresh thyme sprigs, stripped
- 1 litre (4 cups) vegan chicken style stock (or your favourite vegetable stock)
- 150g (1.5 cups) dry pasta, preferably conchiglie or shells to hold the soup
- 1 (400g/14 oz) can cannellini beans, undrained (or other white beans)
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Take a large pan or soup pot and add the oil if using or alternatively add 4 tbsp of water or extra stock. Place over a medium heat.
- Add the onion and a good pinch of salt and soften, stirring for 5 minutes then add the carrot and celery and do the same.
- Add the garlic and the herbs and stir, add a small splash of stock if the vegetables are sticking. After a couple of minutes the herbs and garlic should smell really fragrant, at this stage pour in the remaining stock. Lower the heat slightly, cover the pot and leave to simmer for 20-30 minutes.
- At this point, add the beans and their canning liquid and the pasta which should be immersed in water. If not then add more to ensure the pasta is covered by an inch or so. After ten minutes, add the nutritional yeast, a good grinding of black pepper and taste for salt.
- Serve with good bread and an extra sprinkle of nutritional yeast (or a grating of vegan cheese) and black pepper.
Low in saturated fat
High in dietary fiber
High in iron
High in niacin
High in riboflavin
High in thiamin
Very high in vitamin A