Minestrone with Orecchiette and Borlotti Beans

This is a quick and easy Minestrone, particularly appropriate for winter. The ‘cheating’ element come from having most of the vegetables ready prepared and the beans ready cooked. The result, I promise you, is one the very nicest minestrones I’ve ever tasted.

Serves 4-6

This recipe is taken from Delia's How to Cheat at Cooking

Minestrone with Orecchiette and Borlotti Beans
 1/2 a 750g pack of prepared swede and carrot
 1 stick celery, roughly chopped
 1 medium onion, quartered
 1 clove garlic, crushed
 1 x 400g tin Italian chopped tomatoes
 1½ pints (850 ml) vegetable stock (made from Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon powder)
 2oz (50g) orecchiette or other small pasta
 1 x 400g tin borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
 1 x 200g pack of shredded cabbage
 1 tablespoon olive oil
 1 x 100g pack smoked pancetta
 Salt and freshly milled black pepper
To serve:
 2 tablespoons chopped basil
 Lots of grated parmesan


First heat the oil in a large cooking pot, then chop the pancetta quite small with a knife and add it to the hot oil. Next put the swede and carrot, celery and onion into a food processor and pulse till chopped just a little more finely. 

Now add the garlic to the pancetta and stir it around briefly, then tip the swede,carrot, celery and onion in and, keeping the heat high, turn them around and cook for about five minutes.

After that add the tomatoes and stock, and when it begins to simmer add some seasoning, cover with a lid and cook gently for 20 minutes. 

Then the lid comes off and the pasta, borlotti beans and cabbage are stirred in and then back to simmering point and let it continue to cook gently (without a lid) for a further 10 – 15 minutes. 

Serve in heated bowls with chopped basil, and lots of parmesan.

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