Taste of the Week – Minestrone Soup

Photo (c) Clare FM Paul Knapps

On Thursday’s Morning Focus, ‘Taste of the Week’ returned with Paul Knapps. Paul has been a firefighter for 35 years while he also enjoys a love of cooking which has resulted in him being known as ‘The Firefighting Chef. This week, Paul joined Alan to discuss his latest recipe for minestrone soup which provided listeners with the perfect winter soup bowl to keep warm.

A good glug of olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery, sticks chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp smoked paprika
A handful of each
chopped seasonal vegetables like potatoes, butter nut squash, courgette, aubergine, butternut squash, green beans or peas all work , it’s a good one to clear out the fridge
6 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
½ teaspoon dried oregano
2 x can of diced tomatoes, with their liquid (or 2 small 15-ounce cans)
750ml of vegetable stock , you may need to add a little more
About a mug full of Orzo or any pasta you have or like
2 bay leaves
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
A big fist of baby spinach, chopped kale
2 teaspoons lemon juice at the end
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnishing (optional)



Warm the olive oil in a large cast iron pot or just a pot will do over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, tomato paste and a pinch of salt.
Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables have softened and the onions are turning translucent, about 7 to 10 minutes.
Add the seasonal vegetables, garlic, paprika, oregano and thyme. Cook until fragrant while stirring frequently, about 2 minutes.

Pour in the diced tomatoes and their juices, stock.
Add the salt, bay leaves. season generously with freshly ground black pepper.
Raise heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil, then partially cover the pot with the lid, leaving about a 1” gap for steam to escape. Reduce heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer.
Cook for 15 minutes, then remove the lid and add the pasta, beans and greens. Continue simmering, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until the the pasta is cooked al dente and the greens are tender.
Remove the pot from the heat, then remove the bay leaves. Stir in the lemon juice and remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Taste and season with more salt (I usually add about ¼ teaspoon more) and pepper until the flavors really sing. Garnish bowls of soup with grated Parmesan, if you’d like.

You can listen to the full interview below.