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By Diana Earnshaw, Volunteer Contributor

It is said that there are as many recipes for minestrone as there are Italian cooks! No doubt they are thrifty. The great thing about minestrone is that so many different leftovers can be incorporated. Use whichever meat is available, use the slightly squishy tomatoes, that spring onion lurking in the corner of the fridge, the limp celery, the dried out cube of Parmesan, leftover cooked rice or pasta and maybe the last vestiges of pesto at the bottom of a jar. Chilies are not traditional, but I love the heat! Just look at the foods you have and think – can I use this? 

A few other tips to help use up those scraps:

Slightly dried out bread – make melba toast or eggy bread – children love this as a change at breakfast! Bread or bread and butter pudding too!
Milk a little sour? Make yogurt or kefir (you will need to source kefir “grains” for kefir).
Leftover cooked vegetables can be added to omelettes with a sprinkling of cheese.
Bananas going black? Peel them and cut in half. Either push in a lolly stick and freeze a treat for children or as they are for smoothies.


There are a few ingredients which form the basis of this Italian soup. They are the first 7.

  • 1 litre of broth
  • Tomatoes – tinned or pureed rootle tomatoes, tomato puree, passata or a mixture of these to make a good tomatoey flavour.
  • 2 or more crushed garlic cloves
  • 2 chopped onions
  • olive oil (or dripping, or other leftover fat)
  • Herbs – oregano is traditional, but use what you have)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Other ingredients as mentioned above – vegetables, meat, rice, pasta or even a few new potatoes.


    • Heat the fat or oil in a large saucepan.
    • Tip in the onions and cook for a few minutes.
    • Add the garlic and stir for another minute.
    • Put all the chopped vegetables in the pan and stir again for a couple of minutes.
    • Pour in the stock and tomatoes, add the herbs. Bring to the boil. (If you are using uncooked rice or pasta, add them now – just a handful.
    • Turn the heat down and simmer until the veg and rice/pasta are cooked.
    • Add cooled meat and boil rapidly for 5 minutes.
    • Ladle into bowls and serve with grated Parmesan or indeed, any other cheese you have. Good with pesto too.

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