This delicious take on a classic Italian recipe involves making your own homemade chicken stock and is packed with seasonal, nutritious veggies and hearty, comforting flavours. Made in just six easy steps, there's even the option to make this recipe gluten-free – simply swap out the spaghetti for risotto rice or quinoa.
- For the stock, heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Brown the drumsticks in batches, then return to the pan along with the remaining stock ingredients. Cover with 1.5ltr (2 1/2pt) water and bring to the boil.
- Using a large metal spoon, skim the scum from the surface (repeat as needed during cooking). Push the ingredients down with the back of your spoon, submerging fully in the liquid, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 hours.
- Strain the stock through a sieve into a glass bowl and discard the rest – or see Delicious spins (below) for using up the chicken. Leave to cool before chilling for up to 2 days (or freeze for up to 3 months – see Expert tips), if necessary.
- To make the soup, heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot and swede and cook for 10 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the garlic and thyme leaves, then cook for 2-3 minutes more.
- Stir in the balsamic vinegar and tomato purée, then add the tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes before breaking them up with a spoon. Add 1ltr (1 3/4pt) stock and the beans. Bring to the boil, then add the pasta and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the cabbage and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Season to taste, then stir in the shredded basil. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and scatter over the Parmesan, extra basil leaves and a little freshly ground black pepper.
Tortelloni minestrone: Swap the beans and pasta for 1 x 450g pack spinach and ricotta tortelloni. Add with the cabbage and cook for 5 mins.
Chicken and pancetta minestrone: Omit the oil and fry smoked pancetta cubes before adding the vegetables. Shred the chicken from the stock and stir into the soup once it’s cooked.
Gluten-free minestrone: Use 50g (2oz) risotto rice or quinoa in place of the spaghetti.
Make the most of your leftovers and use a whole chicken carcass left from a roast to make the stock. Simply add it along with the veg and water, simmering for the same amount of time.
The stock can be frozen for up to 3 months. If you have any left after making your soup, freeze in ice cube trays to add to recipes that call for small amounts of stock.
In step 4, cook the veg for up to 20 minutes, which will increase the depth of flavour, but don’t overcook it – the vegetables should be softened, but not browned, and still have some bite to prevent the soup from turning too mushy.
Freezing and defrosting guidelines
The minestrone can be frozen for up to 3 months. This can even improve the flavour, though the pasta will swell a little. Allow to cool before pouring into a lidded freezer-proof container. Reheat either from frozen or defrost in the fridge overnight. Once piping hot, add toppings or garnishes and serve.
See more Soup recipes
For top tips on protecting you and your family when preparing raw meat and poultry, visit Food Safety in the Home and view the full Food safety at home video.