Winter delicious minestrone

This is a really good soup to have to hand after a bracing Boxing Day walk and it freezes well so you can have it after that long car journey back down the motorway …


  • 200g pearled spelt 
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 1 finely chopped leek 
  • 1 finely chopped celery stick
  • 2 peeled finely chopped carrots
  • 1 peeled and finely chopped parsnip
  • 3 crushed garlic cloves
  • pinch of dried chilli flakes 
  • 400g can tomatoes 
  •  1 litre vegetable stock 
  • 400g can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

To serve:

  • freshly grated Parmesan 
  • salt and black pepper 
  • 1 bunch cavalo nero. Make sure you pull the leaves away from the stems. Ditch the stems, then shred the leaves (buy from Alan and Lyn’s stall corner Elgin and Portobello, pic)
  • olive oil


Rinse the spelt pop in a bowl with cold water and soak for 20 minutes while you prepare the soup base. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Soften all the finely chopped veg over a low heat for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and chilli flakes and cook for another minute. Now add the tomatoes to the pan then the stock and bring to the boil. Drain the spelt and add to the pan.

Once that is all stirred up reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook the soup for 25 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the spelt is cooked. Add the cannellini beans and cook for a couple of minutes. Pour in a slosh of boiling water if the soup is too thick.

Finally, add the cavalo nero and cook for 4 minutes until tender.

Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve in bowls with a drizzle of olive oil, a scattering of grated Parmesan.

Serve in lovely bowls from Ceramica Blue and some sourdough, the one with the little pointy top from the Grocer on Elgin or the Tin Shed

This is based on a recipe by Notting Hill’s Stella McCartney, in a brilliant book by Mary McCartney called Meat Free Monday, from Books for Cooks in Blenheim Crescent. meatfreemondays

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