One thing that I have definitely become better at since becoming a parent is time management. I’ve always been a bit of a control freak organised, but I now realise I was completely terrible at managing my time! I used to be very good at writing lists; long lists that were neatly written with little boxes to tick when I had done the task. Sounds ideal – but I would rarely, and by rarely I mean NEVER finish the list of jobs. Post-baby I still write a list every day, it’s normally scribbled on the back of an envelope with a coffee stain on, but most importantly I actually do what it says! William has been in a pretty steady two nap routine for a few months and this has made it relatively easy to be organised. It means I have two spells in the day to get things done. For my kitchen this means I need recipes that I can prep, at least in part, in advance. Most often I get the supper prep done in his morning nap as by the afternoon my enthusiasm can be dropping, or my house may have turned into a bomb-site! This summer vegetable minestrone is a perfect example of a supper that can be prepped in advanced and then cooked quickly when everyone is ready to eat.
All of the summer vegetables in this soup need minimal cooking, it takes only 10 minutes to cook and in an ideal world would be eaten straight away as this way the vegetables keep their individual character, colour and texture. On the surface it may not sound that baby friendly, but all the prep work can be done beforehand, meaning when your little one goes to bed supper is only 10 minutes away. This soup is a wonderful way of getting vast quantities of green vegetables into your family. For Will, I blend his up to make a thicker soup as the chunks are currently too big for him to manage, but an alternative for baby led weaner’s would be to drain the liquid off the soup and just give them the vegetables as they are.
The ingredient list may look long but don’t be put off, its really just a shopping list of green vegetables, and they can all be exchanged for others you may have in your fridge or freezer. The key is to not let it overcook. The other little trick in this soup is to add a parmesan rind; a trick I learnt from a Nigel Slater recipe. It works brilliantly with this soup to add a depth of flavour to the broth which would otherwise not be there owing to the soup cooking so quickly. It can be omitted but it does enhance the flavour. Adding pasta to the soup in the form of orzo or spaghetti (we use wholewheat spaghetti) makes it a filling supper on its own, but its also wonderful with some crusty bread and butter.
Soup may not seem that summery but I urge you to give this a try, it is a real celebration of all things green and sings summer!
- A bunch of asparagus
- A courgette
- One handful of peas (fresh or frozen)
- One leek or 4 spring onions
- One handful of sugar snap peas (or fine beans/ mange tout)
- Few stalks of tenderstem broccoli (normal broccoli works too)
- One handful of frozen edamame beans
- Parmesan Rind
- Vegetable stock
- Two Tbsps orzo pasta or a small handful of spaghetti broken into little pieces
- Olive oil
- Handful of chopped basil
- 5-6 leaves chopped mint
- Chop all your fresh vegetables until they are the size of small cubes – try as much as possible to make everything a similar size.
- Soften the leek or spring onion in a little olive oil, making sure they don’t colour
- After a minute add the rest of the chopped vegetables and the edamame beans
- Add the orzo or spaghetti pieces
- Add the vegetable stock (a cube works just fine in this soup, because I’m also cooking for William I use salt free stock), water (about 2 pints) and the parmesan rind. Leave to simmer on a medium heat.
- After 5 minutes add the frozen peas and mint plus half of the basil
- Cook for further 5 minutes until the vegetables are soft but still retaining their beautiful green colour.
- Remove the parmesan rind, ladle into bowls and garnish with the rest of the basil, enjoy!