If you have running water, some pasta, beans and tinned tomatoes in the pantry, fresh veggies and herbs in the fridge and a hot cooking element then you have the means to provide a nourishing meal for yourself. Sometimes, it doesn’t get any simpler than that. Pantry soup is something most home cooks are familiar with. You might have made a version of it yourself in the past. A what’s-in-the-pantry-let’s-chuck-it-in kind of chunky soup, ours takes on a new look and taste every single time. This one is our favourite version and is an ode to the classic minestrone soup. It is perfect to lift up a blah evening when you don’t want to cook but don’t want to do takeaway either. The kids can help gather the ingredients and if you make lots, you can freeze it for another rainy day.
Have you made pantry soup before? What are your favourite flavours and ingredients to use?
A spin on the classic minestrone, this version of a red robust soup has speck and macaroni along with pantry staples.
2 tablespoons olive oil
200g smoked speck or bacon, diced
6 cups chicken stock
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 fresh bay leaves
6 thyme sprigs
400g can chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup tomato paste
150g macaroni pasta (uncooked)
400g can cannelini beans
1 tablespoon mild smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Add speck (or bacon) and cook for 4 to 5 minutes until starting to brown. Add garlic, onion, carrot, celery and bay leaves. Sauté for another couple of minutes.
Add chicken stock, tomato paste and tinned tomatoes. Cook for 25 minutes on medium heat until starting to boil. Reduce heat. Add beans, paprika, macaroni and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for another 10 minutes on medium-low heat until pasta is al dente. Discard bay leaves before serving.
Serve hot with a dash of pesto stirred through and a crusty bread on the side.
Make a vegetarian version by substituting speck with uncooked diced potatoes and chicken stock with vegetarian stock.
If during cooking you feel that it is starting to get thick and dry-ish, feel free to add more stock and adjust seasoning.
After cooking, stir through a handful of Tuscan cabbage or broccolini for added crunch and vibrancy.