What you learn: Vegetables are the foundation of all good dishes; slow cooking creates depth of flavour; correct seasoning is crucial to satisfying eating; and the best of all minestrone variations is alla Genovese, finished with pesto.
3 tbsp olive oil
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 leeks, sliced
2 carrots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
300g potatoes, diced
1.5lt boiling water or stock
sea salt and pepper
50g small maccheroncini or dried soup pasta
400g canned chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
400g tinned borlotti beans, rinsed
200g silverbeet leaves, roughly chopped
2 zucchini, roughly chopped
2 tbsp pesto
2 tbsp grated parmesan
1. Heat olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed stockpot, add celery, leeks, carrots and garlic. Cook over gentle heat for 10 minutes.
2. Add potatoes and water or stock and bring to the boil, skimming surface if necessary. Lower heat, add salt and pepper and simmer, partly covered, for 20 minutes.
3. Cook pasta in a pot of simmering salted water until al dente, then drain.
4. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, beans and silverbeet leaves to soup and simmer 10 minutes.
5. Add zucchini and simmer for 10 minutes or until the soup is nice and thick (mash a few of the beans to thicken it further). Add pasta and heat through.
6. Serve in warm pasta bowls and top with a spoonful of pesto, grated parmesan and extra pepper.
Tip Jamie Oliver suggests using up all those half-used bags of pasta at the back of your cupboard.
This is one of Jill Dupleix's 10 recipes everyone should master.