A light meat and vegetable broth from the Italian repertoire. This soup freezes well.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped finely
4 celery sticks, sliced finely
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes
200g lamb, cut into small cubes
2 vegetable stock cubes, made up in 2 litres of boiling water
40g pearl barley
4 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes
Salt (you may not need it as the stock cubes are salty)
6 button mushrooms, sliced thinly (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil and freshly grated Parmesan to serve
1. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large saucepan over medium heat.
2. Add the onion, celery and carrot. Cook over gentle heat for 10 minutes making sure not to burn the vegetables. Add the lamb and the second tablespoon of olive oil and cook until the meat is coloured.
3. Pour the hot stock into the saucepan. Add the pearl barley and cook until the pearl barley is nearly soft. Add the potatoes and cook for a further 10 minutes over medium heat. Check the seasoning and add more salt if you need to. Before serving, you can add some sliced button mushrooms if you wish and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
4. Serve the minestrone with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some grated Parmesan.
– To make this a vegetarian Minestrone soup, omit the lamb. Instead add either 300g of small broccoli florets or thin batons of courgette (zucchini) when you add the potatoes.
You can also add 200g or half a tin of tomatoes with their juice to the recipe above when you are adding the stock – don’t add the whole tin because it will turn it into a tomato and vegetable soup.