Minestrone is such a hearty, flavoursome soup. Something I’ve noticed with my boys, is that once I find a winning combination of flavours, it can be a great way to introduce new foods by repeating those flavours in a new dish. For example, they all love Bolognese, so tomato, onion, garlic, thyme, oregano and bay leaves are a great base for me to work from. I use these flavours in Alexx Stuart’s winner winner chicken dinner and also her lentil stew. It’s no surprise they love both those dishes, as the flavours replicate one of their favourites. I take the same approach with my minestrone – I hero the flavours I know they love, and downplay or hide less accepted ingredients. I love minestrone full of lentils and other legumes, but the boys do not. So I skip the legumes when I’m making it with the kids in mind. One day, when they already associate Minestrone as a food that they like, I will add in a few legumes and slowly increase from there. If you know your child is going to flip out about zucchini in the soup, maybe leave it out the first time you make it and add something you know they like – maybe corn or pumpkin. The base flavours can stay the same and then just tweak the vegetables according to what your family likes best.

Add hard veggies first, softer ones in the last 15 mins of cooking.

What you need

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 stems celery, diced

1 large carrot, peeled & diced

1 parsnip, peeled & diced

2 large potatoes, peeled & diced

1 zucchini, diced

2 handfuls green beans, trimmed and cut into 2cm lengths

5 roma tomatoes, skins removed and diced, or 1 tin diced tomatoes, or passata if you prefer

1.5L Vegetable or chicken stock

2 handfuls continental parsley, chopped

1 bayleaf

1 cup soup mix legumes (optional), soaked for 3 hours+

1 cup small pasta (I use Olive Green Organics quinoa and amaranth baby anellini)

S&P to taste

Parmesan or Pecorino, to serve

Let's cook

  1. Add olive oil to a large soup pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and garlic and stir until fragrant. Add a handful of the parsley, bayleaf, celery, carrot, potato and parsnip and stir to coat.
  3. Add the tomatoes and stock and stir to combine. If you don’t need minestrone to be vegetarian, this is a great opportunity to include some chicken stock or ‘bone broth’ to build immunity and support the gut. If I’m making mine vegetarian, I use 2 tbsp of the thermomix vegetable stock paste and add water to make up the volume. If you don’t have stock, water, herbs and seasoning would be fine too.
  4. Add the drained soup mix (lentils, dried beans etc), if using.
  5. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the pasta and soft vegetables (zucchini and beans) and simmer for a further 15 mins.
  7. Check the seasoning and serve sprinkled with a little extra parsley and some shaved parmesan.
Minestrone ready to serve

Tips for the kids

  • Serve the minestrone with buttered toast for them to dip with. Maybe the first time they will only tentatively dip and mostly just eat toast. Next time a little more, and so on. If you have a fussy eater, the first step is just allowing the food on their plate.
Elijah getting ready for his second bowl. Excuse manners!
  • If they love cheese, add loads. Even better, get them involved.
Remy helping to grate and add pecorino
  • For younger children, or children with textural/ sensory sensitivities, cook the pasta separately. Ladle out a few portions of soup and puree with a bamix or in a blender. Serve the pureed soup over the pasta with cheese as more of a sauce. Once this is accepted, next time you can puree and add back in some of the regular soup so it’s a half/half mix, until you don’t need to puree at all.
Remy’s minestrone was pureed with the Bamix and some pasta added back in

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