Cooking School: Minestrone with Pesto

Minestrone & Pesto (03) by MeetaK

I'm feeling a bit under the weather. I caught a nasty flu and spent the weekend in bed tending a fever, runny nose and a sore throat. I'm still not feeling all that hot right now, but the bed is becoming a bit of a bore and staring at the ceiling, counting the cracks again and again is just not as interesting as coming down here, relaxing on my red comfy sofa and sharing another one of my favorite comfort foods with you.

As part of my Cooking School series, I am presenting the wonderful, the totally nourishing and the very comforting, Minestrone. There is certainly no fixed recipe for a minestrone soup and you are sure to find as many recipes for this vegetable soup as you will find Italian pizzerias. Each region in Italy specializes in it's own minestrone, adding their own ingredients and vegetables. As a matter of fact, the same cook will alternate his/her recipe depending on the vegetables in season. 

Minestrone is one of the vital elements in Italian cuisine and is more commonly eaten throughout Italy than pasta itself. It basically is a soup, and depending on the person who makes it, can be thick or thin, have rice or pasta in it or be vegetarian or contain meat.

The minestrone comes from modest origins, being part of the so called cucina povera, which means poorer people's cuisine, it was a type of dish that was thrown together with whatever ingredients one had left over. It was filling and cheap. It is often said that no one actually goes out to buy the ingredients to specifically make a minestrone. A minestrone is often made using the leftovers from other dishes.

Whatever is said about this soup, some people love the minestrone, others need time to develop a taste for it and others - well they never find solace in a soup made from leftovers.

As for me - I make minestrone whenever I feel like it. Yes, I do go out to buy my ingredients specifically for a minestrone, but I will often add vegetables I already have in my fridge into it too. I also almost always top the minestrone with a large dollop of Pesto alla Genovese - freshly made of course. Because we all know by now that the stuff one buys in those jars simply does not taste as good as the homemade pesto, made with fresh basil leaves and high quality olive oil.

My minestrone here is made with potatoes, carrots, parsnips and tomatoes. I also added a bit of kale I had in the fridge. I like the wonderful flavor it gives the soup - sweet and full-bodied. I personally prefer pasta in my minestrone. Rice, in my opinion, just does not fit into this soup. However, my taste is always developing, evolving and discovering new things everyday. So, I could be experimenting one day in my kitchen and find the perfect match for rice in the minestrone.


One pot + many ingredients = one-dish dinner! That's you challenge this month. I am looking for innovative and creative one-dish meals. These can be casseroles, cooked in a crockpot, in a pressure cooker or in a baking dish. Whatever you are using you need to stick to the one cooking dish. So, come on over to February's mingle with your favorite One-Dish Dinners.

You'll find all the necessary details to this month's Monthly Mingle here.

Deadline: March 10th, 2008


Don't forget to send me your links to your fresh, crispy, juicy winter produce. Eat Fresh is a seasonal event, which attempts to bring people to share their weekly fresh produce with each other. So, all you need to do is take a picture of your weekly fresh vegetables and fruit, post it on your blogs, send email to and you will get an invitation to join our growing Eat Fresh list.

Heather of Gild the Voodoolily buys fresh arugula, Chinese kale, mushrooms and so much more. Just check out her gorgeous and colorful looking fresh produce collection!

Deadline: March 31st, 2008

Printable version of recipe here.

Minestrone & Pesto (02) by MeetaK

150 g dried borlotti beans - soaked overnight in 1 l unsalted water
3 potatoes - diced
4 carrots - diced
3 parsnips - diced
120 g kale - roughly chopped
2 onions - finely chopped
4 tomatoes - roughly chopped
50 g bacon - diced (optional)
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 bay leaf
Large handful flat leaved parsley - chopped
2 l vegetable stock
200 g pasta
Salt and pepper
Few shavings of Pecorino cheese to decorate

Pesto alla Genovese



Minestrone & Pesto (04) by MeetaK

Place the beans along with the soaking water in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer for 1 hour, until soft. Alternatively, use your pressure cooker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Sauté for 3-4 minutes.

In a pan heat the oil and, if using, sauté the bacon until crispy. Add the onions and all the vegetables except for the tomatoes, kale and beans

Now add the tomatoes, parsley, bay leaf and pour in the vegetable stock. Bring to a rolling boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain the beans and then add to the soup. Cook for a further 15-20 minutes. Finally add the kale and allow to heat through for 3-4 minutes.

Cook the pasta in a separate pot according to the instructions on the packet. Drain, then add to the soup.

Serve on pre-warmed soup bowls with a sprinkling of grated Pecorino cheese and a large dollop of Pesto alla Genovese.

Tip: I prefer not to add the entire pasta to the soup. I normally place a handful of pasta in the plate then ladle the soup over it. This is basically because, if there are any leftovers to the soup, I hate having mushy over-cooked pasta in my soup when I re-heat it.


Minestrone & Pesto (06) by MeetaK

This is always a great pleasure to indulge into. Both Tom and Soeren also totally enjoy this soup. I make several variations to this soup, depending on the vegetables I get at the market or in my CSA box. Each time, I enjoy experimenting with flavors and aromas of different vegetables and herbs.

Hope you too enjoy this soothing soup too.

All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

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  1. I love this soup Meeta. I usually buy the ready made soup cans and for last 1 year, it has become my favorite :). Your version here looks slightly different than what I have tried..I will make it sometime soon. It will be perfect for the weather we are having.

  2. This hearty soup will warm your bones on the chilliest of evenings. I love the addition of bacon for added savoriness too. Hope you're feeling back to normal soon!

  3. Minestrone is one of my favorites!! I hope you are feeling better!

  4. I make my minestrone with pesto too. Reminded me to make it soon :)

  5. Why can't I like minestrone? I love soup, I love making new dishes out of leftovers , I love beans, I love pasta. It just doesn't make sense. Maybe the pesto will do the trick!

  6. I always throw a blob of pesto into my minestrone, too. In fact, it's what I most often do with the pesto I make and freeze in the summer. If you freeze it in ice cube trays, you have just the right amount (one cube) for soup!

  7. Love the minestrone. I have never used pesto in it. Will give it try next time.
    I do agree home made pesto is the best and so easy to make.

  8. feel well soon hugs for you meeta.... lovely soup and pics are fab as usual....

  9. Mmmm! Minestrone and pesto are two of my favorite things. Never thought to put them together though!

    Feel better :)

  10. Get well soon, Meeta - feeling under the weather is no good!
    Minestrone, on the other hand, is a wonderful soup.I love the endless versatility of it!!

  11. I like the idea of adding kale to this soup. Nice pictures!

  12. I'm not a big soup person, but who doesn't love a good minestrone? That looks delicious and hearty. Hope you feel better soon!

  13. That is one hearty and delicious looking soup! I know what I want to make the next time someone is sick!

  14. Hi, hope you are feeling better already from that delicious soup you made. I've been to your blog many times before, but tonight I have taken the time to read it from top to bottom and I am speechless, Meeta. You are a one-of-a-kind talented girl, I hope you know that. I also like photography, but can only aspire to reach your level of creativity.

  15. One of the great things about Minestrone is just what you said: they're all different. Different, but almost always winners.

    Yours looks amazing, especially with the Pesto.

  16. That does look terribly comforting! Feel better soon!!

  17. Sorry to hear you're feeling crummy. I've had it this winter so I know what a drag it is. This sounds wonderful. Minestrone was one of my mother's favorites.

  18. Thank you all for your get well wishes. Must have worked because I have started to feel a bit better.

    Shilpa, Forget the cans! It's easy to make and tastes a lot better when made at home.

    Susan, Bacon can make anything taste good LOL! But it does add a wonderful smoky touch to the soup. Thanks for the wishes!

    Deborah, Thank you - I am!

    DK, I love the flavors and the way they complement each other. Hope you enjoy it!

    Michelle, try it out with pesto. Minestrone is a soup where you are free to play around with different ingredients until you find a flavor combination that suits you best. maybe in your case it's the pesto!

    Lydia, I love that idea. I think I will be piching it for my next pesto batch. Thanks!

    HC, You can make several different types of pesto - but alla Genovese tastes best!

    Arundati, thanks!

    We Are Not Martha, well please do try them out - then come back and tell me what you thought.

    Pille, thank you sweetie. That is what makes the minestrone so great, I guess - one can make it with their own favorite ingredients.

    Poonam, yes - that was a whole new flavor experience.

    Mike, thanks! Well there are few who do not. I never understand what is not to like about the minestrone but there really are some out there LOL!

    Hillary, well I am sure they will love you forever if you bring this over! ;-)

    Nina, oh thanks so much for that lovely message. It really made my day. I have a huge smile now. I appreciate it and hope to see you around here more often. Hugs!

    Graeme, exactly! One can use different beans, rice instead of pasta, different vegetables - it always tastes different each time you make it. The pesto is a lovely "icing on the cake" or can I say "the pesto on the soup"?

    RecipeGirl - thanks. This was a great soup!

    Kalyn, thanks for coming by to send me your wishes. It's what I really like about you. ;-)Did your mum make it in a special way?

  19. There is nothing so good as a good Minestrone! Meeta your photos are always beautiful but soup is usually difficult and iffy. Yours is stunning!
    Hope you're feeling better!


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