Cookery corner - Autumn harvest minestrone

A tempting recipe from Mary Llewellin

This robust soup has as many versions as there are cooks. I’ve given my soup an autumn twist by adding red stemmed chard, kale and courgettes from our vegetable plot. I’ve also swapped the traditional pasta for a handful of quinoa (see article, right). Kale and quinoa are both high in protein.

The bread recipe is adapted from Gill Mellor’s version inCountry Living. I’ve made it with wholemeal flour and taken out the cider! Together, the soup and bread make a delicious celebration of autumn’s bounty.

Soda bread


Serves 10 children

? 20g butter ? 1 dessert apple, cored and diced ? 250g plain wholemeal flour ? 10g bicarbonate of soda ? 1 bunch sage leaves, chopped ? 50g grated Cheddar ? 2 tbsp cider vinegar ? 50ml natural yoghurt


Heat the oven to 220°C.

Melt the butter in a frying pan and cook the apple, stirring occasionally, until soft and slightly caramelised.

Place a baking tray in the oven – don’t grease it.

Pour the vinegar into a measuring cup and top up to 150ml with water.

Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, bringing them together gently until they form a dough. Avoid kneading – less is more when handling soda bread.

Remove the tray from the oven and, with floured hands, form the dough into a round loaf. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Harvest soup


? 400g tin cannellini beans ? 2tbsp olive oil ? 1 clove garlic ? 1 onion ? 2 sticks celery ? 1 carrot ? 1 beetroot ? 1 courgette ? 4 kale leaves ? 4 chard leaves ? 400g tin chopped tomatoes ? 750ml hot vegetable stock ? 40g quinoa ? 4 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley ? 40g Parmesan or Cheddar cheese


Dice all the vegetables finely, except the kale and chard, and cook gently with the olive oil in a large saucepan until the onion is translucent but not browned.

Add the tomatoes, stock and cannellini beans and bring to a gentle boil, then leave to simmer.

Remove the stalks from the kale, roll the leaves together into a fat cigar shape and slice thinly. Repeat with the chard but leave the stems on and chop into thin slices.

When the soup has been simmering for ten minutes rinse the quinoa in cold water and add to the pan, giving everything a quick stir. After another ten minutes, mix in the kale and chard and cook for a final five minutes.

Serve topped with chopped parsley and grated cheese.

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