The River Cafe's winter minestrone

The River Cafe's winter minestrone

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(28 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


  • 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 simply as 'chard', Swiss chard has large, fleshy, tender, deep-…

  • 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



    While it's the traditional Christmas bird, turkey is good to eat all year round, though…

  • 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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David Lloyd's picture
David Lloyd
28th May, 2020
Bland. I couldn't eat it. Threw outut what was leftt on the compost heap.
Alex Turvey's picture
Alex Turvey
19th May, 2020
The measurements in this recipe are wrong. Use 100g of chard and cavolo nero, NOT 1kg. We thought the amounts didn't look right so we used 500g of each and it was still far too much. Other than that it seemed nice enough. We would make it again using the correct amounts. Maybe also trying adding pasta and the other herbs people have suggested in other comments.
LaMiaCucina's picture
26th Feb, 2020
Wonderful! Went down vey well with my Italian family here in Italy. You don't add pasta to Minestrone if you intend it to last a few days, as the pasta would no longer be al dente. Instead, I cooked some broken up spaghetti and the added it into my portion of soup. Will do the same tomorrow. A tiny pinch of smoked paprika and a small splash of Worcester sauce worked well too, bit not too much as you need to taste the individual ingredients.
dave gamble's picture
dave gamble
19th Jan, 2020
No Pasta????!?!?!? How is this even minestrone? This country has lost its mind.
17th Oct, 2017
Thought this was horrible. Tried it due to good ratings. - weird. Went down the toilet after I'd tried a small bowl
10th Nov, 2012
For a more italian feel try changing the herbs to 1 teaspoon of fresh chopped rosemary and 1 teaspoon of dry basil and oregano and add 2 tablespoons of tomato puree. At the end of cooking add 1-2 tablespoons of soy sauce- sounds odd but tastes great. Broken spaghetti pieces work well too as a pasta to add 10-15 mins before the end of cooking time.
7th Nov, 2012
This looks delicious, will try it soon! I am 15 and have just started my own food blog it would really help me if you looked at my blog and commented or told people you know about it. Thanks x
7th Nov, 2012
This looks delicious, will try it soon! I am 15 and have just started my own food blog it would really help me if you looked at my blog and commented or told people you know about it. Thanks x
17th May, 2012
I have never been successful making minestrone soup before trying this recipe. Particularly like the consistency produced by liquidising the cannelini beans at the end. Not too tomatoey!!! I used just spring cabbage instead of Swiss chard and cavolo nero and it worked fine. I also added some soup pasta for last 10 minutes. Yummy and apart from the fact that initial chopping of vegetables a bit of a chore it was easy to make! A definite addition to my repertoire!!
25th Apr, 2012
Delicious, and great to have a winter version of the usual summery soup to use up the chard we've been getting in our veggie box. I was only making this for two so I didn't pay attention to the measurements (2 kilos of greens does seem like a lot though). This is what I went with, which made the perfect amount for two: 1 onion, 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, a whole heap of chard (unmeasured, but guessing around 400 g), 1 can of beans, 1 can of tomatoes, 1 cup of broth. Blending some of the beans really improves the texture, I wouldn't skip that bit. Lovely stuff.


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27th Dec, 2013
This is a great recipe; simmer a parmesan rind in it, if you have one, to boost the flavour, and don't skimp the initial slow cooking However, there is I think a pair of errors in the ingredients, which read "1kg Swiss chard, leaves shredded and stalks roughly chopped 1kg cavolo nero, stalks removed, leaves shredded (or savoy cabbage)" I think this should be one BUNCH or supermen pack of each, NOT one kilogram, a bunch being around 350 grams. That makes plenty for 5 portions - think about it, you can't cook 2kg greens to soup in 700 ml liquid, and few people would want as much as 400g each in a soup plate! Anyway, that's the amount I use, and mine looks just like the photo!
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