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The River Cafe's winter minestrone

A really thick, filling minestrone soup - tastes even better after a day
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, starter
Cuisine vegetarian
Servings 5
Calories 263 kcal


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots roughly chopped
  • 1 large red onion coarsely chopped
  • 1 head of celery coarsely chopped, keeping the leaves
  • 1 head of garlic cloves peeled
  • 1 kg Swiss chard leaves shredded and stalks roughly chopped
  • a good handful of parsley finely chopped
  • 400 g can peeled plum tomatoes drained of most of their juices, roughly chopped
  • 1 kg cavolo nero stalks removed, leaves shredded (or savoy cabbage)
  • 410 g can cannellini beans drained and rinsed
  • about 700ml boiling chicken or vegetable stock
  • a few sprigs of winter herbs such as thyme or sage chopped
  • freshly grated parmesan or vegetarian alternative
  • extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling


  • STEP 1
  • Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and slowly fry the carrots, onion and celery until soft and dark. This will take about 20 minutes but it’s worth it – the slow cooking gives a lovely taste. Add the garlic, chard stalks and half the parsley, and stir to prevent sticking. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes or until reduced.
  • STEP 2
  • Add half the Swiss chard leaves, half the cavolo nero, three-quarters of the beans, and the boiling stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat. Simmer for 30 minutes. Pour in more stock if needed – don’t add too much – it should be thick.
  • STEP 3
  • Add the remaining Swiss chard and cavolo nero and blanch briefly so they remain green and crisp. Season when slightly cooled.
  • STEP 4
  • Purée the remaining cannellini beans coarsely in a blender with some of the cooking liquid. Add to the soup – it should be very green. Stir in the herbs and serve hot with Parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.


This recipe is sponsored by Mediterranean Supermarket 
Keyword soup, vegetarian, winter soup