Have an odd assortment in the fridge and larder post-festivities? Try Philippa Davis' minestrone soup - thick, hearty and the perfect warming supper


Minestrone soup is pleasingly flexible, and best made when you have an odd assortment in the fridge. Try Philippa Davis’ recipe for this Italian offering when you are in need of a hearty supper.

For something a little lighter and with a game twist, try our Lebanese pheasant broth.  This Middle Eastern inspired soup is perfect for elevenses.

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Minestrone is thick, hearty, Italian soup and I think one of the most flexible recipes. Traditionally it is made up from fridge leftovers so can contain a variety of vegetables, beans, sometimes meat and even cooked pasta. I tend to make it a lot around Christmas and New Year as there are always lots of odd bits of veg in the fridge that can be included if raw or cooked.

Makes 4 servings

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 white onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 300g squash, peeled and cubed
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed or peeled then finely diced
  • 3 sticks of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
  • 2 tins chopped tomato
  • 1 litre game, chicken, light ham or veg stock
  • 400g tin cannellini beans, drained and lightly rinsed (245g drained weight)
  • 200g blanched and roughly chopped cavalo nero


  • 70g white sourdough bread (about 2 slices) cut into 1cm cubes
  • 6 tbsp finely grated parmesan
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley

To make, pour the oil into a large saucepan on a medium heat, add the onion, squash, carrots and celery along with the bay, thyme and rosemary, season with salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes. You want the veg to have softened a little and begun to sweeten.

Add the tinned tomatoes, the stock and beans, season again.

Bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes or until the veg are soft.

Stir through the greens, bring back to a simmer then take off the heat and check the seasoning.

For the croutons, preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

Toss parmesan with the bread and oil, lay out on a tray and bake until lightly golden.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle over the parsley.

Serve hot with the warm croutons and cheese sprinkled on top.