The River Cafe's winter minestrone

The River Cafe's winter minestrone

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(19 ratings)

Ready in 1¾ hours


Serves 5

A really thick, filling minestrone soup - tastes even better after a day

Nutrition and extra info

  • Vegetarian

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal263
  • fat10g
  • saturates2g
  • carbs27g
  • sugars0g
  • fibre9g
  • protein17g
  • salt2.64g
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  • 2 tbsp olive oil
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

  • 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped



    The carrot, with its distinctive bright orange colour, is one of the most versatile root…

  • 1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 head of celery, coarsely chopped, keeping the leaves



    A collection of long, thick, juicy stalks around a central, tender heart, celery ranges in…

  • 1 head of garlic, cloves peeled



    Part of the lily, or alium, family, of which onions are also a member, garlic is one of the most…

  • 1kg Swiss chard, leaves shredded and stalks roughly chopped
    Swiss chard

    Swiss chard

    swiss shard

    Also known as just plain chard, swiss chard has large, fleshy but tender deep green leaves and…

  • a good handful of parsley, finely chopped



    One of the most ubiquitous herbs in British cookery, parsley is also popular in European and…

  • 400g can peeled plum tomatoes, drained of most of their juices, roughly chopped



    A member of the nightshade family (along with aubergines, peppers and chillies), tomatoes are in…

  • 1kg cavolo nero, stalks removed, leaves shredded (or savoy cabbage)
    Cavolo nero

    Cavolo nero

    ca-voll-oh nee-ro

    A loose-leafed cabbage from Tuscany, Italy. The leaves are a very dark green, almost black,…

  • 410g can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
    Cannellini bean

    Cannellini bean

    can-a-leen-ee been

    Slightly kidney-shaped with squarish ends, cannellini beans are from Italy and are creamy white…

  • about 700ml boiling chicken or vegetable stock



    Chicken's many plus points - its versatility, as well as the ease and speed with which it…

  • a few sprigs of winter herbs such as thyme or sage, chopped


    This popular herb grows in Europe, especially the Mediterranean, and is a member of the mint…

  • freshly grated parmesan, or vegetarian alternative



    Parmesan is a straw-coloured hard cheese with a natural yellow rind and rich, fruity flavour. It…

  • extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and slowly fry the carrots, onion and celery until soft and dark. This will take about 20 minutes but it’s worth it – the slow cooking gives a lovely taste. Add the garlic, chard stalks and half the parsley, and stir to prevent sticking. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes or until reduced.

  2. Add half the Swiss chard leaves, half the cavolo nero, three-quarters of the beans, and the boiling stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat. Simmer for 30 minutes. Pour in more stock if needed – don’t add too much – it should be thick.

  3. Add the remaining Swiss chard and cavolo nero and blanch briefly so they remain green and crisp. Season when slightly cooled.

  4. Purée the remaining cannellini beans coarsely in a blender with some of the cooking liquid. Add to the soup – it should be very green. Stir in the herbs and serve hot with Parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

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Comments, questions and tips

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25th Jan, 2011
I am absolutely baffled as to why this recipe is marked as easy? I couldn't get the swiss chard and was advised on the internet that a mixture of spinach and kale would suffice. However the weight in the recipe must be wrong as I had far too much and equally 700ml of stock wasn't enough liquid. I ended up with a bit pot full of green mess which tasted nice but wasn't a soup.
12th Oct, 2010
I just made it with lentils and red kidney beans, added some rough bacon pieces too.. smells divine!
25th Jul, 2010
A bowl of steaming health.
31st Mar, 2009
Would love to make this! Can anyone tell me what they did with the garlic?
26th Nov, 2008
Fantastic, and much more flexible than you might think. I've added pasta instead of beans - it was even better. Yum!
24th Nov, 2008
Anytime RachyC, if you ever want any more advice, visit my homepage - its - possibilities for minestrone soup are endless!
24th Nov, 2008
Thanks for the tip ChloeQ. Added the macaroni and you were spot on with that one. lovely and warming on a cold winters night :)
18th Nov, 2008
Absolutely delicious. I added a couple of tablespoons of macaroni as well, which was a nice touch. Agree that it gets even better after leaving it overnight.
2nd Nov, 2008
Made this overnight in slow cooker. Did it with borlotti beans - soaked them first during the day, then boiled 10 mins. Added beans to rest of ingredients (except cavelo nero) and left to cook. Just added cavelo nero next morning. Was lovely for lunch, even better once it had been in the fridge for a day or two.
19th Sep, 2008
easy to make, tastes great, brilliant dish when its cold and wet outside, light a fire and eat this yummy soup !


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