I have always loved pasta in all of its forms and I think that putting little bits of it in a vegetable soup is a brilliant idea. A glance at Elizabeth David‘s Italian Food reveals the importance of fresh parsley and green vegetables in minestrone; spinach and beans work well, alongside whatever other vegetables are in season. Regional variations of this classic dish might include salted pork rind, ham or bacon and the Genovese add pesto. A handful of freshly grated parmesan, sprinkled on top to serve is also widely recommended.
I made this soup on the cheap and therefore left out the pig, parmesan and parsley. The following made enough for two portions;
- 1 onion
- 2 carrots
- 1 small parsnip
- 3 cauliflower florets
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tbs tomato and anchovy paste* / regular tomato paste
- 1 tsp mixed dried herbs
- 500mls Marigold Boullion
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 handful of minestrone pasta
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
*We made pizzas on the weekend and I cooked onion, garlic, mixed herbs and a tin of anchovies into passata to make the sauce. Reduced down, this makes the best tomato paste I have ever tasted!
- Dice the first four ingredients into 7mm chunks and sweat them in a pan with the lid on. This should be on a medium heat with a good swig of olive oil
- Crush and add the garlic
- After a few minutes, add the paste and the herbs and stir in.
- Add the stock and paprika and bring to a simmer (not a rolling boil)
- Now stir in the pasta and cook for another three minutes. Test the pasta to know when the soup is done.
Those Italians really know how to make food that is both deeply satisfying and healthy. The pasta soaks up the wholesomeness of the vegetables and the salty flavour of the tomato and anchovy paste. Hot, savoury and filling, minestrone is one of my favourite comfort foods.
My recent experimentations with canning have revolutionised my cooking world. I wonder if it is possible to can a big batch of tomato and anchovy paste?
Lunch was going to be a pretty boring half-price pork pie and salad until I supercharged it with this explosive green and yellow salsa. It combines soft, sweet dates; rich tangy preserved lemons; crunchy spring onion and bell pepper and fresh hot green chili.
Pork pie, salad and stonking green and yellow salsa
- 1 large spring onion
- 1/2 a yellow bell pepper
- the skin of 1 preserved lemon
- 10 pitted dates
- 1 medium hot green chilli without seeds
- 1 tbsp olive oil
*Next time I will add a big handful of chopped coriander leaves for a little more freshness.
Over the last week in Norwich we’ve had thick fog in the hours of darkness and bright crisp blue skies in the day. The zing of this salsa, as I sat greedily soaking up the sun through our living room window, made me seriously content.
Pepper plants soaking up the last of today’s sunshine
One of Norfolk’s amazing skies
Today Annabel and I walked to Frank’s bar for brunch. Inside the low ceilings and warm colours made for a cosy atmosphere. We got two big mugs of coffee and checked out the menu, which as well as cooked meals includes brunch until 3pm, all day tapas and sandwiches. Two people walking past our table with a scrabble board affirmed that Frank’s bar is my kind of place!
Autumn colours on the walk into town
The focal point of most days for me is food, and today was no exception. I was after a meaty sandwich and a side of chips…
Pastrami, gherkin and mustard mayonnaise on warm crispy ciabatta
Luckily they don’t do chips as I think I would have exploded otherwise. The bread had the perfect balance of crispy crust and soft chewy crumb and inside there was a generous quantity of pastrami and gherkins.
Frank’s Bar interior
Big mugs of coffee
Frank’s bar is a place where I could sit and chill for a long time. The food was really good value and the ambiance relaxed; its clear they would rather maintain a chilled out vibe than turn the tables over to cram as many covers in as possible. They show a film every Sunday afternoon which sounds very appealing! Definitely somewhere I will go back to.