Ligurian Minestrone / Minestrone alla Genovese

Ligurian Ministrone / Ministrone alla Genovese

“Rich in vegetables and Genovese pesto, this soup is full of vitamins and nutrients. Pesto is one of the gastronomic symbols of Genoa and the wider region of Liguria. This basil-based sauce was created during the 19th century in this splendid corner of northern Italy.”


    6 servings
  • 1.25 litres water
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 small onion or ½ medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, rinsed, ends removed, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, rinsed, ends removed and finely chopped
  • 1 handful flat-leaf parsley, rinsed, dried, stems removed and finely chopped
  • 200g new potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 zucchini, rinsed, ends removed, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 200g savoy cabbage or kale, shredded
  • 1 handful peas, podded or use 100g frozen petits pois
  • 150g green beans, ends removed, rinsed and drained and cut into 2 cm pieces
  • 150g cannellini or borlotti beans, raw, tinned or cooked. If using tinned, drain and rinse in tap water
  • 120g tinned peeled plum or fresh tomatoes (around half a tin)
  • 50 ml olive oil for cooking
  • 50 ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Ground sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 120 grams of short pasta e.g. ditalini, Mafalda or macaroni
  • Vegetarian Pecorino hard cheese to taste
  • 30g basil
  • 15g pine nuts
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 60ml extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 45g grated vegetarian hard Pecorino cheese


  1. Clean and wash all vegetables thoroughly.
  2. In a large, deep stock pot, over a medium-low heat, gently fry the onion, carrot and celery in olive oil with a pinch of salt, stirring every now and then for about 8 minutes, or until soft and fragrant.
  3. Meanwhile, add the potatoes to the pan, stir and cook for 5 minutes. Add the other vegetables to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes (resist the urge to put in more than half a tin), stir then add the water and 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Cover and leave to simmer gently for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  4. Then add the pasta, beans and parsley, stir and cook for another 20 to 30 minutes. Make sure the minestrone is neither too watery nor too thick. If you find it is looking a little too thick, or dry, add a little more water.
  5. While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the pesto.
  6. In a mortar, pound the garlic, basil, pine nuts, and a few grains of salt to preserve the green colour of leaves.
  7. Continue to grind and slowly add the grated cheeses and olive oil. Mix until the sauce is creamy and fragrant.
  8. Remove the pan of soup from the heat, stir in the pesto and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes: stir well before serving. Serve warm into soup bowls with grated cheese on the side. Pour any remaining pesto into a bowl for use on the table.
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