A picturesque Italianate Classic.: minestrone soup. A complete meal with one pot simplicity.Once upon a time, soup only came in cans. A few eccentrics would make it. Mad people mostly.  The rest of us ate minestrone.

Or we thought we were eating minestrone. The second half of the twentieth century hoodwinked us. Forget Watergate! What about minestronegate

Retro soup can from 'One Handed Soup's minestrone recipe

So here it is – the real thing. A spoonful of perfectly balanced wholesome yumminess to set the record straight. A classic soup that is a complete meal in itself. If you’re serving this to kids as well, it’s such an inconspicuous way to consume veggies that neither you nor they will have to admit that it’s happened.

A soon of 'One Handed Toast's' minestroneA spoon of 'One Handed Toast's' minestrone

If you can possibly bear it, chop the veg up nice and small. The merest hint of work required for this one pot dish.

Chopping carrots for 'One Handed Toast's' minestrone recipeIt makes for a pretty spoonful. For those who may be offended by the presence of vegetables, it takes the emphasis away – so that they meld into a lucky dip of goodies on a spoon.

A ladleful of One Handed Toast's minestrone

Use what’s in your fridge or larder for this. Smoked bacon instead of pancetta is fine. Green beans are good. Other small shaped pasta works okay. Of course, it’s delightful if you are superhuman and have home-made stock but a good quality instant chicken or beef version is more than fine. 

Give the dish some deeply yummy oomph. Use a quality tin of tomatoes. And chop the rind off some parmesan or other hard Italian cheese and add it to the soup while it’s cooking. You can fish it out later.

All that’s needed to finish off is some freshly chopped parsley and grated parmesan. Because of the pulses, potato and pasta, there’s no need for bread. The soup is big enough to go it alone.

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Serves eight very hungry people.


1tbsp olive oil
200 grams pancetta, cubed
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
2 large carrots
2 sticks of celery
300 grams potatoes
2 bay leaves
100 grams savoy cabbage
1 tin tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
400 gram tin of canelini beans
1.5 ltrs chicken or beef stock
100 grams macaroni or, even better, tubetti.
The rind of a slice of parmesan
3 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper (check whether your stock is salted. Remember that pancetta is already salty)
Parmesan for grating at the table


Peel and chop the potatoes into half inch cubes. Dice the onion, carrot and celery as small as patience allows. Finely chop the garlic.

Add only a drop or two of oil to a large, heavy bottomed pan. Get the pan nice and hot. Brown the pancetta for 2-3 minutes.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the pancetta and set to one side, leaving the rendered pancetta fat in the pan.

Reduce the heat a touch and cook the onions for five minutes.

Add the garlic and sauté for a minute more.

Add the celery and carrot and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

Throw in the cabbage, potato and bay leaves.

After 2-3 minutes add the tomato, stock and parmesan rind. Bring to a simmer and keep it there for half an hour.

Add the pasta and beans and simmer for a further twenty minutes.

More stock or water might be needed if you lose all soupiness. Some liquid is needed to allow the pasts to absorb liquid and cook. Also, some pasta can be denser than others. Sometimes just putting the lid back on the pan after cooking – and leaving it to its own devices for a few minutes - will enable the pasta to reach its destination.

Stir in freshly chopped parsley and serve.

Add parmesan at the table (or something like it).

Great for leftovers ...


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