It is a dreary day here today wet, cold and miserable. Not the most motivating weather for a Monday. Winter is making a sneak preview and reality is checking in that we actually do get cooler weather here on the Gold Coast. Of course nothing to get too distressed about compared to the Southern Australian states and well overseas snowy climates, but we do still get a winter even if the cooler weather is only for a very short time. I rather like it actually, it makes for a nice change to the sticky, hot humid days that engross us for the majority of the year. Who’s complaining we have it pretty darn good so the few months of chilly nights we can totally deal with. Also makes dinner time more cosy and enjoyable too in my opinion. Nourishing wholesome soups packed with veg and flavour I just can’t get enough of which are rather easy to make as well.
Minestrone is a hearty Italian classic soup which I have been making since I first started learning to cook. As has my mother and her mother before that. It is a basic winter staple in our home something we have all grown up on. Except now I add the goodness of quinoa to the tomato vegetable broth which makes this soup even more nutritious than before and a gluten-free option. The pancetta gives the dish an extra salty depth of flavour which I quite like but you can always leave it out to make this a vegan/vegetarian meal. Serve with some warm crusty bread and a glass of red to make it a full authentic Italian meal.
Italian Minestrone with Quinoa & Crispy Pancetta
A traditional Italian Soup with the added goodness of Quinoa
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery sticks, chopped
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 zucchini, diced
1/2 bunch cavolo nero, (Tuscan kale) finely sliced
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp dried oregano
salt and pepper
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup red wine
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1/3 cup tri-colour quinoa, rinsed
400g tin four bean mix or borlotti beans, drained and washed
100-120g pancetta, chopped
- In a large stock pot heat oil on high heat. Add chopped pancetta and cook for 2-3 mins until just crispy. Remove from pan and a side
- Add onion, garlic and saute for 1-2 mins until softened. Add carrot, celery, sweet potato, zucchini, cavolo nero, bay leaves, oregano, salt and pepper to taste and half the pancetta to the pot. Saute for 3-4 mins stirring continuously until vegetables are just beginning to soften
- Add stock, wine and tin tomatoes stir to combine. Bring to the boil then add rinsed quinoa. Turn heat down low to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
- Add beans cook for a further 5 minutes. Serve soup topped with the remaining pancetta, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, extra cracked pepper and some warm crusty bread rolls. If you like some heat I added some chilli salt also.