Today the lovely Classic Jac is guest posting for me and she is very generously sharing her Nana’s famous minestrone soup recipe. According to her Twitter profile, Jac is a ‘Classic Virgo, beginning life again on my own terms with a Cheeky Monkey and a Happy Buddha in tow’. Jac has also become a lovely friend of mine over the past few months and happily shared this great winter warmer recipe with me some time ago and my whole family loved it. I’m sure you will too.
Jac with her boys, Mason and Seth
My Nana has two great loves – cooking and her family. She emigrated to Australia from Italy when she was a teenager and married an Estonian who was very particular about how he liked his food. So while her gnocchi is a massive family favourite, so are her cabbage rolls, apple strudel and schnitzels. Oh and the birthday cakes! Every birthday cake that I can remember has been lovingly made and decorated by Nana. There have been pirate cakes, fairy cakes, and my favourite was a Snow White cake complete with all dwarves, bunny rabbits and a bridge over a river. This tradition has now extended to her great-grandchildren. This year Thomas was revisited for my son’s 3rd birthday.
Jac with her Nan and Seth
As a kid I would spend many Sunday afternoons in Nana’s kitchen helping her prepare the Sunday night family dinner, and each of her grandchildren have developed a love for food, I think due to the many hours that we have spent with her trying to learn her secrets. With Nana it is just a pinch of this, a dollop of that, so nothing tastes exactly like when she make it. I’m pretty sure this is deliberate on her part so that we keep coming back for more.
I would like to share one of Nana’s recipes, which I believe her mum (my Nona) used to cook. It was the first of Nana’s dishes that I learnt to cook on my own, and it continues to be a family favourite. Over the generations we have each tweaked the recipe to suit our own tastes. My Mum tells me that when she was a kid the soup was made with shredded cabbage but as I absolutely detest cabbage I leave it out. I also am not a fan of vegetable chunks so I throw the zucchini, carrots and celery in the food processor and blitz until they are very fine, or I have been known to grate them. I also like a fairly thick soup so I usually just add a litre of stock, but add more water if you like a thinner soup.
2 cloves of garlic
250g diced bacon
2-3 sticks celery
2-3 tbs tomato paste
3/4 cup risoni/macaroni/other small pasta
1 tin red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Dice onion and garlic in food processor, fry in large pot until onion is soft. Add bacon and fry off.
Dice zucchini, celery and carrots in food processor – I like my vegetables quite small, but if you like a chunkier soup just roughly chop them. Add vegetables to the pan with the onion and bacon and fry off until most of the water comes out of the veggies.
Cover veggies with stock and water, bring to the boil, stir through tomato paste and oregano, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes. You may need to add more water.
Bring back to the boil, add pasta and boil until pasta is cooked through – keep stirring so pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Add red kidney beans and stir until heated through.
I like to have my soup with a shaving of parmesan cheese and a slice of good crusty bread.
I hope you enjoy Nana’s minestrone as much as my family have.