Best recipe: Minestrone


We both thought that this recipe was delicious and that we’d cook it again. We used kale which came straight from our garden. Some minestrone recipes contain potato and pasta, but this one contains neither. It’s a winter version so it contains vegetables you’d harvest from your garden at this time of year. It’s quite a chunky dense soup, so you may like to add more stock or water at the end to give you the right consistency. I liked it chunky and dense.

Winter minestrone soup recipe
Adapted from River Cafe’s winter minestrone soup recipe. 

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
2 storks of celery, coarsely chopped
1/2 head of garlic cloves, peeled
250g kale, chard or cavolo nero, coarsey chopped
a handful of parsely, finely chopped
400g can peeled cherry tomatoes, drained of most of their juices
425g can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
500ml homemade chicken or vegetable stock
sprig of thyme or sage, chopped
freshly grated Parmesan
extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and slowly fry the carrots, onion and celery until soft and dark. This will take approximately 20 minutes.
  2. Then add the garlic and the parsley. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for a further 10 minutes or until reduced. 
  3. Add half of the kale leaves (or chard or cavolo nero), beans and the boiling stock. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Add the remaining kale leaves (or chard or cavolo nero) and blanch briefly so they remain green and crisp.
  5. Stir in the thyme or sage and serve hot with Parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.

Serves 2.

Cooked for the 100 recipes to cook in your lifetime challenge. 

Lighting up

It’s dark and cold when we both get home, so the garden hasn’t been watered after work this week. Thursday night I ached to see how everything was going, and wandered around the backyard with a headlight.

Something had knocked over a few of the peat pots that I started last weekend. I’m guessing it was either the wind or a neighbour’s cat.

The dew has been settling on the grass and highlights where all the spiderwebs are. There are more than 80,000 types of spider in the world, the majority of which have never been identified.

Our native raspberry has started to fruit.

Inside, as I took off my headlight and boots, Matt asked, “How many kilograms do you think we’ll get from the potatoes?”

“I dunno”.

Matt asks so many questions and my reply is often TMQ, which stands for too-many-questions. Half of the questions he asks about the garden I can’t answer and that frustrates me to no end.

A few days later I remember an article Peter Cundall wrote for Organic Gardener magazine. I found the magazine amongst the pile near the sofa and flipped to the article. I had my answer:

“We should get 5-6 kilograms per plant, but he used whole potatoes”.
(We had cut ours up into quarters).

“Cool. We need it to make up the kilograms.”

We sure do.

Blow, blow, thou winter wind

Today the winter wind blew with all its might. A lemon tree branch was snapped and the chives were flattened. The garlic has tousled green bed head.

Outside the local corner store a yellowing tree was uprooted. The poor thing didn’t stand a chance. It was two metres high with roots barely a third of a metre. A side effect of our long drought is that the rain doesn’t penetrate the soil well, so many plants have poorly developed root systems. This is why it is better to water your plants for longer but less often.

Here’s some edible plants that make good wind breaks:

  • Black mulberry
  • Carob
  • Feijoa
  • Jaboticaba
  • Longan
  • Loquat
  • Mango
  • Olive
  • Pine nut
  • Red cherry guava
  • Rose apple
  • White sapote
  • Yellow cherry guava

Smart Permaculture Design by Jenny Allen

Winter warmers

The patchwork quilts are out and the oil heater is on in the evenings. Bring on the comforting soups and stews, and hail the return of the crockpot (it’s making a comeback). We’re enjoying roasted parsnips, swedes, and turnips. I’ve swapped all my skirts for long pants, and I’ve been wearing knee-high ski socks to bed. Winter is here.

Time for the banksias, wattles and Geraldton waxes to add blushes to our garden beds.

On Saturday we just sat outside and enjoyed the sun. Sunday we got dirt under our nails and planted out a dozen natives. I half-heartedly emptied another packet of St Valery carrot seeds into two rows – hopefully these will come up. Matt heaped compost and sugar cane mulch up around the potatoes.

We didn’t need to do any watering as it rained so much the week before. We’re waiting for a delivery of mulch to top up our fourth bed. The chokos and eggplant have continued to do well, and we just reached our target total this month.

Over breakfast, I said, “Those potatoes are going off.”

Matt replied, “Like a frog in a sock.”