Saturday 23 June 2018

Minestrone Veloce from Gennaro's Fast Cook Italian

Hello old friend. I’m sitting here writing this surrounded by boxes and bags waiting for pizza to arrive. We’re moving on Monday you see. Across the road. Yep. All we need to do is walk our belongings out the front door, around the corner and across the road… it’s about 100 metres away. You’d think that would make moving a whole lot easier but I don’t think it will as we are determined to do it all ourselves. We = husband and I. I’ve been packing this week while Tris is away for work and eating my way through the freezer. I’ve found all sorts. Smokey mexican beans, pork and fennel bolognese, peas, edamame, pumpkin soup, two types of dumplings, lots of crusty bread, veggie fried rice and even two portions of minestrone soup that had a dollop of pesto on top and everything. Oh how I loved my past self this week.

Minestrone Veloce | Gennaro's Fast Cook Italian | salt sugar and i

The kitchen was the first thing we started packing and I finished off. I don’t know if that was a good idea but I guess picking the most challenging room first was better than leaving it last and now that it’s completely done, the rest feels like it’ll be a sinch. Only thing is, we still have two nights and I’ve packed everything except two bowls, one plate and a couple of utensils, hence the takeaway tonight.

When I tell people we’re moving the first thing they ask is how’s Arthur coping? Well, he seems to be loving the empty kitchen cupboards and won’t get out once he’s managed to pry a door open. He is also enjoying the boxes and playing real life tetris with me, jumping in them when I’ve half filled them. The whole packing thing has made me a little nostalgic this week. A lot has happened in this tiny shoebox of an apartment and a lot of meals have been cooked in blue the kitchen. Oh blue bench, you have been great, really you have. We’ve chopped, stirred, ate, mixed and spilt many a meal on you. You’ve  challenged me to hide you in photos but still, you sneak through the corners and your not so subtle blue tinge has allowed me to experience every free filter available in hopes of hiding said tinge but best of all, your shallow girth has always been generous and allowed our floor to be fed too. You are a sharing soul and you’ve been a treat. I am not sad to see us go but in a way, I am. May the new cooks love you and create meals to share as much as we have over the last four and a half years. Goodbye and good riddance.

Minestrone Veloce | Gennaro's Fast Cook Italian | salt sugar and i

But I guess before we say goodbye completely I should share the last meal I cooked (reheated). It’s a recipe from Gennaro Contaldo’s new Cookbook, Gennaro’s Fast Cook Italian which I’ve been meaning to share since I first made it as it’s one of the best soups I think I’ve made. Yeh yeh everyone claims to have the best recipe for you. It’s a keeper ok, trust me. I think it’s the dollop of pesto on top because in my view, pesto makes everything better. Minestrone Veloce - Quick Minestrone Soup. It does actually come together pretty quick which surprised me because the ingredients list looks massive for a ‘quick cook’ recipe but I guess I think of quick cooking with fewer ingredients. So don’t fob it off as a long recipe even though the ingredient list looks long. I also struggled to find fennel so used broccoli instead. I know, I know, completely different flavour profiles but I wasn’t going to get my knickers in a knot at the supermarket to find fennel. Broccoli worked really well, it was delicious. I added more pasta than the recipe asks but doesn’t everyone? Oh and the pesto I made, was a parsley based pesto, no basil at the shops either so I improvised and added a stack of parsley. It was also delicious.

The addition of pesto makes the soup taste fresh and not frumpy how some minestrones can end up, and even though I say it tastes fresh, it makes a really good belly warming dinner on a cold winter night with some crusty bread smothered in salty butter. Carbs on Carbs - yyyyyeeeeessssss!

Anyway - takeaway is here so that’s it for me for tonight. What to cook in the new kitchen?? Oooo and there is a dishwasher - hallelujah!!

Minestrone Veloce - Quick Minestrone Soup

Recipe from Gennaro’s Fast Cook Italian by Gennaro Contaldo

Cooking time: 35 minutes (not including veg prep)
Serves 4-6

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 small fennel bulb, finely chopped*
1 zucchini, cut into small chunks
1 large potato, peeled and cut into small chunks
280g savoy cabbage, shredded
6 cherry tomatoes
A handful of fresh basil leaves*
1.5 litres vegetable stock
1 x 400g can borlotti beans, drained
50g frozen peas
75g small pasta shells (pastina)*
Sea salt & ground black pepper
Grated parmesan, to serve
Pesto sauce (see recipe below), to serve (optional)

* As mentioned above, I used broccoli instead of fennel, parsley instead of basil and doubled the amount of pasta.

Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan set over a medium-high heat. Add the onion and celery and sweat for a couple of minutes. Add the carrots, fennel (or broccoli - stalks only), zucchini, potato, cabbage, tomatoes and basil (or parsley), and mix well. Pour in the stock, bring to the boil, then lower the heat and cook for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, if you are making the pesto (recipe below), get on with this now.

Add the borlotti beans, peas, (broccoli florets, if using) and pasta and continue to cook for about 6-8 minutes, until the pasta is cooked (check cooking times on packet).

Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve with grated parmesan and a dollop of pesto, if desired.


  1. Loved this post Dani! Soup looked super delicious! And I'll be there on Monday to help you xxx


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