The only authentic Italian component of minestrone in my house is the cookware I make it in.  Other than my oh-so-pretty Essteele saucepans, the entire experience I describe here will be unashamedly of the busy-Australian-homeschooling-mother kind.  But it’s tasty, filling, and economical.

You need:

  • approximately 400gms of diced bacon
  • 375gm Italian soup mix, cooked
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped (or substitute dried, using less)
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 280gm tomato paste
  • 2 cups cabbage, chopped  (if it’s not your favourite vegetable, cut it very finely)
  • 3 cups shell pasta (uncooked)
  • lots of water
  • parmesan cheese to serve

If you have forgotten to soak the beans, toss them in a saucepan with 6 cups of water to simmer.  It will take about one and a half hours to cook to soft, in which time you can chop the veges. If you are using bacon rashers, chop those also, but ready diced bacon from the deli is a staple in my freezer – ready to cook!

Method:

  1. In your largest saucepan, saute bacon, onion, garlic, celery, carrot, and parsley for around 10mins. 
  2. Add cooked soup mix, including cooking water, to the saute ingredients.
  3. Add tomato paste, cabbage, pasta, additional ten cups of water (2.5 litres), and salt & pepper if desired.
  4. Bring to the boil, cover, simmer for approximately 20 mins, or until vegetables are soft.
  5. Serve with parmesan cheese.

This will make a large amount, enough for our family of six, for two nights.  It improves in flavour, and is wonderful to give yourself a night off if there is a busy day planned, or simply to indulge in extra read aloud time.

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