Spring minestrone with rocket and basil pesto

Spring minestrone with rocket and basil pesto.
Spring minestrone with rocket and basil pesto. Photo: Marcel Aucar

Celebrate the new season with this vibrant and fresh minestrone, in which the green vegetables sing.


50ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve

50g butter

1 brown onion, finely diced

4 cloves garlic, finely sliced

5 Dutch carrots, finely sliced

1 celery heart (the pale inner stalks of a bunch of celery), finely sliced

Salt flakes

Freshly ground black pepper

1 small bulb fennel, finely diced

2 zucchinis, sliced

1 bunch asparagus, sliced in rounds

12 green beans, cut into short lengths

1 litre quality chicken stock

1x400g tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

3/4 cup podded fresh peas

3 handfuls double-podded broad beans

1/2 bunch parsley, chopped

Rocket and basil pesto

50g basil leaves

50g rocket

20g parsley leaves

50g pine nuts

100g grana padano or parmesan, finely grated

1 clove garlic, chopped

180ml extra virgin olive oil

Salt flakes

Freshly ground black pepper


1. For the pesto, place the herbs, rocket, pine nuts, cheese and garlic in a food processor and process until fine. Scrape the mix from the sides of the bowl, add the oil and process until smooth. Season to taste.

2. For the minestrone, in a large wide-based pot, heat the olive oil and butter. Add the onion, garlic, carrot and celery, season and cook over a medium to low heat until softened and becoming sticky, but not quite caramelised.

3. Add the fennel, zucchini, asparagus and green beans. Turn up the heat and saute for a few minutes.

4. Add the stock, 500ml of water and the canned beans, stir and bring to the boil. Add the peas, broad beans and parsley and cook for another minute or so - the vegetables should be bright and just cooked. Take off the heat and check and adjust the seasoning. To serve, top with a dollop of pesto and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Tip Store any leftover pesto in a jar under a layer of olive oil to stop it oxidising.

Also try: Karen Martini's winter minestrone