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Strange as it may seem, some people dislike sweet peppers, so in this soup, I grate a red pepper and that takes care of any grumbling table talk. In fact, they eat this soup with a relish unsurpassed. Goes to show …

Ma-se-strone
Custom minestrone soup

Ingredients


  • olive oil
  • 350 g smoked pork rashers, cut into small dice (optional)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 stalks celery with some leaves, thinly sliced
  • 4 young, slim carrots, sliced
  • 1 medium red pepper, grated
  • 250 g white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 x 425 g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 x 425 g can white cannellini beans in brine
  • boiling water
  • 2 chicken or vegetable stock cubes
  • 50 g tomato paste
  • 1 x 425 g can of corn kernels or baby peas, drained
  • 250 ml pre-cooked and drained elbow macaroni
  • 1 x 55 g packet soup powder of your choice: vegetable, mushroom or cream of tomato
  • seasoning: salt, freshly-milled black pepper, sugar, chopped garlic, dried chilli flakes
  • 65 ml chopped parsley
  • to serve: olive oil, parmesan cheese, whole parsley leaves



Chef's hint: There is no hard and fast rule about this soup. You can make it as chunky or soupy as you wish and add as much or none garlic and chili.

Method


Heat the oil in a large soup pot and add the smoked pork (if using), the onion, celery and carrots. Start to sauté them. When the pork and veggies have taken on some nice colour, add the red pepper and sauté until some of its moisture has evaporated. Now do the same with the mushrooms.

When you are happy that the pork and veggies are caramelized and have built-up a good flavour base, add the chopped tomatoes and beans with their brine. Cover the food completely with boiling water and add the stock cubes and tomato paste. Stir and bring to the boil. Skim off any foam and then reduce heat. Cover and cook on very low for about 45 minutes or until the pork is tender. You may need to replenish the water a little.

When the pork is tender to your liking, add the corn kernels or peas and the elbow macaroni. Check the consistency of the soup and add more water if you like. Now mix the packet of soup with a little cold water and stir into the boiling soup and allow to cook a few minutes until thickened. Taste and then season to your liking with salt, freshly-milled black pepper, sugar, chopped garlic and dried chili flakes and stir in the chopped parsley.