The morning was all about a pirate ship mural - complete with glittering sharks and whales of course. We managed a brief bit of outdoors before the rains descended again and it was time to do some serious cosy cooking. We've just signed back up with Abel and Cole for weekly veggie boxes which is forcing me to be a bit more creative with our meals or risk a fridge full of neglected kale and radishes (ok there might still be a few neglected radishes about...) What does one do with a kilo of cavolo nero? THIS: top tip for a delicious dinner full of a squillion veggies and tasty enough even for a three year old boy who distrusts any foods that stray to far from beige is the following recipe from the flawless River Cafe. I'm sad to say I've only managed to eat at the restaurant once - and my god it was delicious, but it's all the way in Hammersmith! - but I've spent countless hours dribbling into their various recipe books, which are filled with basically EVERYTHING you never knew you wanted RIGHT NOW. Their Winter Minestrone is wholesome and chunky and just what you needed. Promise. This recipe pretends to be for 5 but we are 2.5 and a baby and we polished it off in one sitting.
winter (autumn?) minestrone
2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
1 head celery, coarsely chopped & keeping the leaves
1 whole head garlic, cloves peeled
1 kg swiss chard, leaves shredded & stalks roughly chopped
large handful fresh parsley, chopped
400g tin peeled plum tomatoes, chopped roughly
1 kg cavolo nero, stalks removed and leaves shredded (you can substitute savoy cabbage)
410g can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
approx 700g boiling stock - chicken or veg
a few sprigs of winter herbs, chopped (I used thyme)
freshly grated parmesan
olive oil to drizzle
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy saucepan - Le Creuset or similar is ideal if you have one. Slowly fry the carrots, onion and celery until soft and dark. This takes absolutely ages - I'm pretty sure I had these going for almost an hour, stirring very occasionally, and they caramelise a bit eventually which is what you want. Add the garlic, chard stalks and half the parsley and stir in tomatoes. Simmer for 10ish mins until reduced.
Add half the cavolo nero, half the chard leaves, 3/4 the beans and the stock, which should be already boiling. Bring to the boil, then reduce and simmer 30 mins. Resist the urge to add more stock unless you really need it - the soup should be super thick. Add the remaining chard and cavolo nero and blanch briefly to keep them as bright green as possible.
Puree the remaining beans in a blender with a bit of cooking liquid and stir in with the rest of the herbs. Serve hot with lots of grated parmesan and a drizzle of oil. DIVINE.