What could be nicer than to be able to make a big, hot pot of warming soup to carry you through those chilly winter evenings?


  • for the chicken stock:
  • 1 chicken carcass (left from roast chicken dinner!)
  • 1 small carrot (or trimmings from soup preparation)
  • 1 small onion (or trimmings from soup preparation)
  • 1 small celery stick (or trimmings from soup preparation)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small bunch of thyme
  • 1.5 l water
  • for the minestrone:
  • 1.5 l chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tins peeled and chopped tomatoes
  • 50g smoked bacon lardons
  • 100 g peeled and chopped potatoes
  • 100 g peeled and chopped onions
  • 100 g peeled and chopped celery
  • 100 g peeled and chopped carrots
  • 1 head cabbage finely sliced
  • 1 courgette sliced
  • 1 tin haricot blanc/white beans
  • 50 g peas or corn
  • 200 g orzo pasta
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • chopped thyme
  • chopped parsley
  • chopped oregano
  • 100 ml olive oil
  • for the croutons:
  • 3 slices of bread
  • 100 ml olive oil
  • chopped thyme
  • chopped rosemary


  • Chicken Stock:
  • After removing as much of the meat as possible from your chicken carcass, place it in a large pot along with all the remaining ingredients.
  • As you will only be using the liquid from this, it is not important how you chop the vegetables.
  • In fact, it is a lot more economical to use the trimmings from the vegetables you prepare for the soup itself.
  • Add the water and simmer gently for about 20 minutes.
  • It is important not to boil the stock or simmer for too long as the stock will become cloudy as the chicken breaks down.
  • Once cooked strain the liquid into a jug or similar (remember it is the liquid you want to keep!).
  • Once it has cooled remove any fat that may have gathered at the top.
  • Minestrone Soup:
  • In a large pot heat the olive oil.
  • Firstly fry the smoked bacon lardons (strips).
  • Reduce the heat under the pot and add the onions, garlic, celery, carrots, thyme and oregano.
  • Turn these vegetables over a low heat for a few minutes.
  • Add the stock, tinned tomatoes and potatoes.
  • Bring the soup to a simmer for about 8 minutes.
  • Now add the sliced cabbage, courgette, beans, corn and pasta.
  • Continue to simmer for a further 12-15 minutes or until the pasta is cooked.
  • Add the chopped parsley when you are ready to serve.
  • Herb Croutons:
  • Remove the crust from the bread and cut into evenly sized shapes.
  • Place on a baking tray and drizzle with the olive oil.
  • Sprinkle the herbs on top and toss the bread well.
  • Place in a pre heated oven at 180 degrees for about 8 minutes or until the bread has become golden brown.
  • Croutons are best served hot so you do this just before you serve the soup or reheat them under a grill for a minute or two.
  • To Serve:
  • The best way to serve it I think is in a large serving dish in the centre of the table with plenty of Vienna roll or similar bread for mopping!


Richie's tip: Minestrone soup is a big, hearty stew. You can use this recipe as a base, a starting point for you to add or take away your own ingredients. There is no hard and fast recipe, the idea is you use up what you have available to you rather than going shopping specifically to make this soup. You can always add meat or even fish to make it more of a main course dish. The recipe for croutons is also included here but, again, it is entirely up to you.

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