Pic of Asparagus minestrone with cannellini beans and greens

Asparagus minestrone with cannellini beans and greens

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Vegetarian mains

Asparagus minestrone with cannellini beans and greens

Main Serves 2 40 min
Think of this dish as an outrider of the summer. There are no strict rules for a minestrone soup and, as a generally vegetable based stew, it is prone to track the seasons. Where the debates do start to rage are whether it should contain pasta, rice or pulses. I suspect all are justified but I have chosen some mild, creamy cannellini beans. We are used to seeing minestrones heavy with tomatoes. I've held back a little here, seeking a hint rather than a strong acidic hit.

Cook's notes

You can use this recipe as a rough framework, substituting in courgette and runner beans later in the season, or even kale and squash in the autumn.

Ingredients

  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 bunch spring onions
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 300g broad beans
  • 1 stock cube
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 potato
  • oil for frying e.g. sunflower or light olive
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 100g spring greens
  • 1 tin cannellini beans
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp basil pesto
  • 25g Italian style cheese
  • salt and pepper

Method

Prep time: 20 min
Cooking time: 20 min
  • Step 1

    Put a kettle on to boil. Wash and finely dice the celery stalk. Trim and finely slice the spring onions. Roughly chop the tomatoes. Peel and finely chop 1 garlic clove. Pod the broad beans and pop them in a bowl. Tip over some boiling water and leave them for a few minutes.
  • Step 2

    While you wait, measure 800ml of boiling water and crumble in the stock cube. Whisk until dissolved. Drain the beans and take a few minutes to slip the beans from their skins. Remove the woody ends from the asparagus, roughly the bottom 2cm, discard them.
  • Step 3

    Slice the stalks into 1cm pieces, keeping the tips whole. Peel the potato and cut it into small half cm dice. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the saucepan and add the diced celery. Fry gently for 5 minutes. Add the potato, spring onions, garlic, bay and chopped tomatoes.
  • Step 4

    Fry gently for a further 5 minutes. Pour in the stock and bring to a simmer. Cook gently for 10-12 minutes until the potatoes are tender. In the meantime, strip the spring green leaves from the stalks. Discard the stalks and wash the leaves well. Roll them up together and shred them as finely as you can.
  • Step 5

    Drain the cannellini beans and add them to the pan. Let them warm through for a few minutes. Add the broad beans, asparagus and spring greens to the pan. Simmer gently for 3 minutes until they are all just cooked. Check the seasoning and adjust with salt, pepper and a squeeze or 2 of lemon juice to your taste.
  • Step 6

    Ladle the minestrone between deep bowls. Serve with a blob of pesto on top and a scattering of Italian cheese.

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