Minestrone alla Genovese | Genoese Minestrone with Pesto

How most excellent is pesto and its cousin pistou swirled into vegetable soups! We do it in our 13 Treasure Happiness Soup, so called because it brings a sense of joy and happiness to anyone who eats it. More correctly it is a Provencale Vegetable Soup.

Our soup today is one of the Italian ones that combines pasta and dried beans, a classic soup pairing, with vegetables. The pasta used can be Vermicelli or Maltagliati – the irregular shapes of pasta designed to go into soups. A hand made pesto crowns the soup and is swirled through the soup before eating – a process that adds to the joy of hot soup on a cold day.

Similar Soups include 31 Soups for Winter, 13 Treasure Happiness Soup, and Chickpea and Butterbean Noodle Soup.

Browse our Minestrone Soups and all of our Soups. Our Italian dishes are here. Or explore our Late Autumn dishes.

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Minestra di Pasta e Fagioli Borlotti | Italian Borlotti Bean and Pasta Soup

What is a Minestra? Minestra predates zuppa (another type of Italian soup) by a few centuries. Derived from the Latin ministrare, meaning to administer, the word reflects how minestra was served from a large bowl or pot by the figurehead in the household. Minestra was traditionally the principal – and often the only – dish served in a meal.

Today it is a rather umbrella term referring to a first course of vegetables, legumes, pasta or rice cooked in a stock.  Minestrone is one of many minestra soups. Regional variations abound but a minestrone always includes a vegetable that will thicken the soup, such as fresh or dried beans, potatoes or pumpkin. It must also include pasta or rice. Our soup today is a type of Minestrone (Minestrone di Fagioli or Minestrone di Pasta e Fagioli), one that does not include a large variety of vegetables. You will find similar soups under many different names as your browse the internet.

Similar dishes include 31 Soups for Winter, Greek White Bean Soup, Dried Fava Bean Soup, and Turtle Bean Soup.

Browse all of our Soups and all of our Italian dishes. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes.

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Baked Fennel Stuffed with Feta, Rosemary and Honey | Gratinéed Fennel with Feta

A long time ago I fell in love with Gratin dishes when I was working in Nancy in France. There was an art theatre there that often showed films in English, so I was a regular visitor. Close by, maybe even next door, was a little cafe that served only gratin style dishes. It was very convenient to have a meal and then pop next door to the theatre, so it became routine for me to visit. It was so good, I still remember it fondly, especially its Poire Belle Helene Dessert.

We have a number of gratin dishes here as a result of that little cafe, and today it is a Fennel Gratin made utterly delicious with feta and honey. The recipe comes from Ilva Berreta, food photographer and former food blogger. I miss her blog, it was full of the most delightful stories and recipes.

Similar dishes include Goat’s Milk Feta with Pine Nuts and Preserved Lemon, Potatoes and Cheddar Gratin, Gratinéed Sweet Potato, and Pasta Bake with Cheddar and Cheese.

Similar Fennel dishes include Slow Baked Fennel with Garlic and Orange, Grilled Fennel with Fresh Mozzarella, and Fennel a la Grecque.

Browse all of our Fennel dishes, our Gratin Collection, and all of our Gratin recipes.  Our Italian dishes are here. Or explore our Early Spring recipes.

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Pasta with Minty Broad Bean Puree and Crispy Garlic Chips

Broad Beans make great purees. You can use young pods, tender beans or dried fava beans, and we have some of those recipes here on the blog. One of the ways that you can use the puree is as a pasta sauce! That is what we are going today.

First we make a puree with broad beans, mint, garlic and pecorino. It is called Salsa Marò or simply Marò, from Liguria in Italy. It is often compared to a pesto, but it does not include nuts. Perhaps it more closely resembles the Nicois pistou which is similar to pesto without nuts.

Marò can be used as a dip or spread. Try the puree on a toasted piece of crunchy bread, perhaps with some soft cheese. But it also works well with pasta, as we do here. Use spaghetti, bucatini or penne – really it will work well with many different pastas, even oricchette.

Similar recipes include Spring Pasta with Broad Beans and Mint, Broad Beans with Crispy Garlic, and Pan Fried Broad Beans with Chilli, Lime and Garlic.

You can browse all of our Broad Bean dishes, all of our Pasta dishes, and our Purees of various forms. See just our Broad Bean Purees. Our Italian dishes are here. Or explore our Mid Spring recipes.

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Slow Braised Red Peppers in Olive Oil

When you are on your own (or not), and you have some left over red peppers in the fridge, and you are thinking, quick and easy eating for supper, take the red pepper (or two) and slow cook it in olive oil with some thyme (oh the aroma!).

Similar recipes include Roasted Red Pepper Salad with Mozzarella and White Beans, Grilled Sweet Peppers and Eggplant Salad, and Roasted Red Peppers Salad.

Browse all of our Capsicum recipes and all of our Italian dishes. Or simply browse our Mid Spring collection of dishes.

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Chickpea and Orzo Pasta Soup

Chickpeas combined with orzo (rice shaped pasta), other pasta or rice is quite common in Italy, Spain and Greece. The dishes are usually simply cooked, perhaps with one herb or spice addition. Garlic, saffron, rosemary and hot peppers are quite common choices.

Today we have a soup with chickpeas and orzo, flavoured with rosemary. It is a simple, rustic and delicate soup, meditative to eat and quiet in its flavour profile. But bang full of nutrition and so very enjoyable. It can be a meal in itself, perhaps with a green salad and crusty bread to follow.

Similar recipes include Chickpea and Carrot Salad, Falafel, and Rice and Orzo.

Browse all of our Orzo dishes, and all of our Pasta recipes. Our Chickpea dishes are here and Greek recipes here. Or browse our Early Spring collection of recipes.

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Florentine Fennel with Parmesan

Elizabeth David has a lovely recipe for gratineed fennel that is a simple and refreshing dish. It’s a dish that bakes fennel with cheese, and of course, butter. This dish can also be cooked in a covered BBQ.

We adore fennel, as you can tell by our recipes. It can be eaten raw, steamed, sauteed, grilled, BBQ’d, baked and gratineed. It can be cooked on it’s own, or combined with other ingredients. You can make soups, salads and sides. One of the easiest salads to make is to shave a fennel bulb and dress with olive oil and lemon juice. I dare you to make this and not eat the whole bowl by yourself, it is so delicious.

Similar recipes include Baked Fennel Stuffed with Feta, Slow Baked Fennel with Chilli and Garlic, Fennel a la Grecque, and Grilled Fennel with Fresh Mozzarella.

Browse all of our Fennel dishes, and all of our Italian dishes. Or explore our Early Spring dishes.

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Zuppa di Zucca | Italian Pumpkin Soup

Today’s recipe is another Pumpkin Soup. This one is Italian in origin, with  potatoes and cannellini beans. It is a beautiful and velvety soup.

Actually, I am famous amongst my friends and family  for Soupe au Potiron and it remains my favourite Pumpkin Soup! However, I also love a little variety. Make today’s recipe in very cold weather, and enjoy it with crisp crunchy bread! This recipe has been around in our Winter kitchen for many, many years, and the original inspiration came from the River Cafe Cookbook.

Similar recipes include Minestra di Pasta e Fagioli Borlotti, Celeriac Soup with Cheese Croûtes, Soupe au Potiron, Pumpkin Soup with Red Peppers, and Adzuki Bean, Pumpkin and Barley Soup.

Browse all of our Pumpkin recipes, and our Soup recipes Our Italian recipes are here. Or check out our easy Mid Winter recipes.

This recipe is one of the vegetarian recipes from our first blog which was in existence from 1995 – 2006.  You can find other recipes from that blog in our Retro Recipes series.

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Baked Feta with Tomatoes and Red Capsicum

Baked Feta is a perfect mezza dish, served with crackers or flatbread. Flavoursome, soft, mouth watering, the baked feta is aromatic and elicits sounds of approval from your friends at your shared table. It is the sort of dish that you can make at the last minute – your friends arrive unexpectedly at meal time, as they do.

Or it is a great snack, mid afternoon, with a pot of mint tea. And it goes really well on Summery days when the BBQ is lit and people are milling around, nibbling, while the salads are made and the vegetable kebabs are cooking. We have also had it on a Winter’s day as we sit around the fire, reading, writing and chatting. Best of all, it is a perfect Summer Holidays dish, when no-one wants to cook much at all.

This recipe is a mish-mash of Italian and Greek. Definitely Mediterranean.

Similar recipes include Slow Braised Peppers in Olive Oil, Parsley and Barley Salad with Feta, Du Puy Lentils with Feta, and Baked Eggplant with Feta.

Browse all of our other Feta dishes, our Italian recipes and our Greek dishes. Or explore our Late Winter recipes.

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Dakos with Tomato, Herbs and Feta

Throughout Italy and Greece, dried bread is common – bread that has been baked, sliced, then baked again until very very dry. The most loved use of this bread, called Dakos or Paximadia in Greece and Friselle in Italy, is in salads where the juice of the tomatoes and oil and vinegar dressing soak into the bread, softening it and adding the flavours of Summer. They can also be used like a bruschetta as a base for a variety of Mediterranean toppings.

We have made a couple of other Dakos dishes, a salad that also confusingly called Dakos, and a baked Dakos dish – both are delicious. This is a variation on the salad, with a few different spices.

Similar dishes include Tomato and Roasted Lemon Salad, Braised Tomatoes with Herbs, Fattoush, Simple Tomato Bread Salad, Dakos and Baked Dakos.

Browse all of our Dakos dishes, our Italian food and Greek recipes. Or explore our Late Summer dishes.

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