Spring, Light Meals, Soup

Spring Minestrone with Basil & Mint Pistou

This is a favourite recipe of mine, and is another that can easily be adapted to include your favourite flavours. You can swap in any green veggies you like, change the pasta shape, or use cannellini beans or diced new potatoes instead. I make variations of this all through the year, as it's very simple, and can be made in record time if you're in a hurry.

Unless you have a good supply of homemade vegetable stock in the freezer (which I rarely do!) shop-bought is just fine – but try to get hold of a good-quality organic variety. Stocks pots are also a favourite of mine – and if you're short on time, don't worry about adding the veg and herbs. While they add a little more flavour and freshness, they're not essential.

The basil and mint pistou adds a welcome zestiness, but regular pesto would work well too. And if you've got the time, an extra grating of fresh herbs and lemon zest to finish is a lovely addition.



For the stock

2.5 litres vegetable stock

1 carrot, roughly chopped

2 sticks celery, roughly chopped

1 tsp white or black peppercorns

Few sprigs fresh herbs, such as dill, mint, and flat-leaf parsley

2 bay leaves

1 tbsp tamari

For the pistou

1 loose-filled cup mint leaves

1 tightly packed cup basil leaves

2 fat cloves garlic

¼ cup nutritional yeast

Juice of ½ lemon

1 tsp salt

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

For the soup

1 cup orzo pasta

1 tbsp light oil, such as groundnut

2 leeks

100g fine green beans, cut in half widthways

300g broad beans, podded, blanched and skins removed

170g fresh peas

125g fine asparagus, cut in half widthways

100g sugar snap peas, cut in half lengthways

To serve (optional)

Extra virgin olive oil

Fresh herb leaves

A grating of lemon zest

Crusty bread


  1. Add all the ingredients for the stock to a large pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15 mins. Turn off the heat and let the stock sit until you're ready to serve.
  2. Add the pistou ingredients to a blender and blitz to a pesto type consistency. Set aside.
  3. Cook the pasta as per the packet instructions, taking a minute or two off the time for an al dente texture.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium-low heat. Add the leeks, and cook for about 5 mins, until turning golden and lightly charred. Turn them over, and repeat on the other side, then remove from the heat and slice into thick rounds.
  5. Strain the stock through a sieve, return to the hob, and heat to a gentle simmer. Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  6. Drain your pasta, and add it to the pan along with the leeks and green beans. Cook for a few mins, then add the remainder of the vegetables. Cook for a further minute, then remove from the heat.
  7. Ladle the soup into 4 bowls, and add a dollop of pistou to each. Drizzle with a touch of olive oil a sprinkling of herbs, and some lemon zest, if you like, and serve with crusty bread.

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