Minestrone with Barbecued Veggies

Let’s first get some things out of the way. What I call barbecue the Americans call grilling. And you know what the best thing about it is? I’ll give you a hint and say it’s not the charred sausages and hamburgers. Meat is much more suited to the smoky, slow -cooking technique the Americans call barbecue (still with me?), but vegetables, they become a different thing altogether. Charring intensifies their flavour and adds smoky dimensions of deliciousness that can’t be achieved any other way. Two days ago, I happened to be present at one of these barbecues and afterwards I went home with a little box filled with leftover barbecued leeks and onions. I immediately knew what I would use them for: minestrone, a chunky Italian vegetable soup.  The next day was a grey and dreary one, so we stayed in and foraged all our ingredients from the fridge and cupboards . If you’re a little less lazy, you could upgrade it by using a more luxurious, homemade stock, such as this one.  Although, I have to say, a minestrone doesn’t get much better (or easier!) than this.

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Ingredients (for 2-3)

750 ml (chicken or vegetable) stock

250 ml tomato passata

3 half leeks (grilled on the bbq)

2 onions (grilled on the bbq)

2 sweet red peppers (grilled/bbq/flameroasted)

3 garlic cloves

dried Italian herbs

salt

pepper

handful of (wholegrain) macaroni

200 g kidney beans (from a can; drained and washed)

fresh basil

grated Parmesan cheese

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  • Sweat the garlic in a layer of olive oil
  • Add the chopped leek and onion and dried herbs, salt and pepper
  • Add the stock and the tomato passata.
  • Add the beans and chopped red pepper
  • Simmer for at least 5 minutes
  • Add the macaroni and boil gently until done (8 minutes).
  • Ladle into bowls and top off with basil and cheese.

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