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How to make summer minestrone

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Minestrone is a hearty Italian soup full of vegetables, beans & pasta. Serve with crusty bread for a delicious light meal.
What you'll need: 
1 litre vegetable stock or bouillon plus 1 tablespoon tomato puree
3 tablespoons red lentils
2 tablespoons olive oil plus 50g onion plus 2 cloves garlic
250g fresh tomatoes
35g small pasta shapes
50g new potatoes plus 50g peeled carrots plus 35g celery
100g courgette
50g fresh or frozen green peas
400g tin haricot beans, drained & rinsed
Salt to taste plus 1/4 cup minced fresh basil
In a large saucepan, combine vegetable stock and tomato puree. Bring to a boil over high heat, then add red lentils. Cover saucepan and lower heat to keep at a gentle boil. Cook for 30 minutes until lentils are soft.
Meanwhile, finely chop the onion and mince the garlic. Finely chop the fresh tomatoes.
Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-low heat and saute onion for five minutes. Add garlic and continue to saute for another minute. Next add tomatoes and cook until they begin to break down and form a puree. Add this mixture to the simmering stock & lentils. (It's fine to add even if the lentils have not yet cooked for 30 minutes.)
While the vegetables are sauteeing, cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Finely dice the potatoes, carrots and celery. Finely dice the courgette, keeping it separate.
When the lentils are soft, start adding the vegetables. First add potatoes, carrots and celery and cook for two minutes. Then add courgette and cook for another four minutes. Finally, add peas and continue to cook for an additional four minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
Add cooked pasta and beans and heat through. Add salt to taste.
To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with fresh minced basil.
Makes two generous servings.
Other vegetables may be substituted for those listed here.
Cannellini or other beans may be substituted for the haricot beans.


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