Minestrone a'la Andy Feel good flowersFeel good flowers

I’ve not been on my blog much in the past few weeks (sorry blog). And sorry to those who read it.

My family and I have had winter bugs – in various shapes and blobby sizes. Nothing serious – just enough to make everything stop for a while. The bug I got kinda hit me harder than usual, and the most I could manage was lying in bed watching TED talks and old Sex in the City seasons. As I started to feel better, I would sit at my computer and stare at it for a while – trying to write interesting posts about soulful food that fixes winter bugs. Not much happened. It was like the bug had temporarily taken away my ability to think creatively about food.

Whilst I wasn’t able to write about it, I did eat some beautiful, nurturing, delicious food, that no doubt helped me back to a healthy state.

My bloke got me soups and risottos to eat in bed, I ate an amazing beef meal when my Dad celebrated a milestone birthday (21 again Dad), a lovely friend got me onto turmeric tea, and another dear friend Andy made me his minestrone soup.

The soup was hand delivered to my house (thanks Cam) in a cool big black pot – ready to eat and fix me right up.

Andy is an amazing cook. His prawn dumplings are the stuff of legends, and he never tires of concocting interesting stuff for his family and friends to eat. He very graciously agreed to share his minestrone recipe with me. One of his secrets is that he used fennel instead of onion. Try it for yourself. I lived off it for several days and could have happily kept eating it for many more days. Thanks Andy and Cam – it was a true act of kindness.

Minestrone soup

Minestrone a’la Andy


Here’s Andy’s ‘Minestrone a’la Andy’ – in his own words. Feeds about 4 – 6 people depending on bowl size, and takes about 20 minutes to prepare, and a couple of hours to simmer.


1 fennel
2 carrots
¼ cabbage
3 sticks celery
2 large zucchinis
3 cloves garlic
1.5 litres vegetable stock
Large glug of olive oil
Large knob of butter
1 x 400g tin cannellini or borlotti beans*
1 x 400g tin of italian tomatoes*

What to do

Chop up the garlic and fennel, then slice the carrots and celery. In a large pot (that has a lid), melt the butter then add the olive oil. Toss in the chopped fennel and fry until it starts to slightly brown. Then add the carrots and celery, and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic and again fry for a minute or until fragrant.

Pour in all of the stock. Heat it up, then add the tomatoes. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat to simmer for about 1 to 2 hours, depending on when you need the soup. An hour will do but two hours will be better.

Whilst the soup is simmering away, chop the zucchinis in half length ways and pan fry, flesh side down, in either a griddle pan or a normal frying pan. I use a griddle pan because a) it puts those cool looking lines on the zucchini and b) because I have one. A normal frying pan will do just as well – fry the zucchinis flesh side down, until lightly brown. This has the effect of caramelising the flesh and adds a smoky flavour to the soup, sort of.

Once the zucchinis are cooked, slice in the same manner as you did the carrots and add to the soup. Chop the cabbage and add that to the soup. I use seasonal vegetables which is why I use fennel instead of onions. Also, fennel has a more pleasant flavour, I find, than your regular brown or red onion. You could also use chopped up brussel sprouts instead of cabbage.

After about half an hour of the simmer time, drain the beans and give them a good rinse, then add to the soup.

Once simmering has finished, the soup can then happily be turned off, and refrigerated overnight to eat the next day.

* Tinned produce. I know what you are thinking, tinned ain’t fresh. However certain brands of tinned toms are far superior to the fresh toms you can get at the moment at most grocers. As for the beans, if you know you are going to make the soup ahead of time then of course buy the beans and soak them overnight. If you are doing the soup on a whim, tinned is quicker.

Minestrone a'la Andy

This was about the third helping for me.