Recipe for Hearty Minestrone Soup

This classic Italian bean and pasta soup is substantial enough to be eaten as a meal in itself – serve it with a mixed green salad and crusty bread. A scrumptious mix of beans, pasta, and vegetables, it is delicious made with your own stock.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 37 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 bay leaf
1.2 litres (2 pints) vegetable stock
400 g (14 oz) tomato passata
175 g (6 oz) pasta shapes, such as farfalle or conchiglie
400 g (14 oz) canned haricot beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and black pepper
250 g (9 oz) spinach, washed and thick stalks removed
40 g (1½ oz) Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Directions
1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan. Add the onion, celery and carrot and cook over a medium heat for 8–10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened.

2. Add the bay leaf, stock and passata, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

3. Add the pasta and beans, bring the soup back to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the pasta is tender but still al dente. Stir occasionally to prevent the pasta sticking.

4. Season to taste, add the spinach and cook for a further 2 minutes, or until the spinach is tender. Serve in individual bowls, sprinkled with the grated Parmesan.

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