Soups for cooler days and nights

Minestrone soup with basil pesto                      Serves 4

1 tblsp olive oil

1 brown onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

4 slices pancetta/bacon, chopped

4 cups (1 litre) chicken stock

400g can chopped tomatoes

1 zucchini trimmed, finely chopped

½ cup (60g) small penne pasta

½ cup frozen peas

400g can borlotti beans, rinsed, drained

Basil Pesto

1 cup basil leaves

¼ cup toasted pinenuts

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

40mL olive oil

25 parmesan, crumbled or grated

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrot, celery & pancetta & cook, stirring for 5 minutes or until onion softens.  Add the stock, tomato and zucchini and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until soup thickens slightly.  Add the pasta and cook for 10 minutes or until tender.
  2. Add the peas and borlotti beans and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, place all pesto ingredients in a food processor to combine.  Season with salt and pepper and serve the soup with a dollop of pesto.

Beef Pho (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)                                       Serves 4

1.5L beef stock

1 cinnamon stick

2 star anise

¼ cup lime juice

2 tblsp fish sauce

375g packet rice noodles

600g beef fillet, excess fat trimmed

200g bean sprouts

4 green onions, ends trimmed, thinly sliced on the diagonal

4 cups thin julienne vegetables e.g. carrot, capsicum, snow peas etc

2-4 small red chillies, thinly sliced (OPTIONAL)

  1. 1 cup Thai basil leaves (or basil leaves)   Combine stock, cinnamon and star anise in a medum saucepan over high heat.  Bring to the boil.  Reduce heat to medium & simmer for 5 mins or until aromatic.  Stir in lime juice & fish sauce.
  2. Cook rice noodles in a large pan of boiling water until just tender.  Drain well.
  3. Slice beef into very thin slices.  Heat a BBQ or chargrill pan on high.  Cook beef for 1 min per side (it is not meant to be cooked all the way through!).
  4. Blanch vegetables in hot water for 1-2 minutes.  Refresh in cold water.
  5. Divide noodles among serving bowls.  Top with vegetables, chilli, basil & beef.  Pour over hot stock and serve with extra lime, chilli & fish sauce.

NOTE: The hot stock will continue to cook the vegetables while eating.

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