Minestrone Alla Ligure

Ligurian Minestrone

This is the Ligurian version of minestrone with lots of fresh herbs and the final addition of a flavourful rosemary pesto stirred into the finished soup.


  • 60 g (2 oz) dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight and brought back to the boil twice
  • olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  • 3 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large slice prosciutto crudo, cut into thin strips
  • 1 small cabbage – white is best for colour – finely shredded
  • 2 large carrots, scraped and finely chopped
  • 6 large spinach leaves, trimmed and washed
  • 6 large dark green lettuce leaves, washed and chopped
  • 1 large tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1.2 litres (2 pints) good chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • a handful of fresh parsley
  • 2 small sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 heaped tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • ¼ dried red chilli pepper
  • 200 g (8 oz) pasta, preferably lasagnette or tagliatelle broken into 7.5 cm (3 inch) lengths


Put 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan, capacity 1.5 litres (3 pints). Add the onion, celery and prosciutto and fry gently until the onion is transparent.

Add the beans, cabbage, carrots, spinach, lettuce and tomato paste. Stir and sweat these gently while heating the stock. Pour in the stock and stir. Cover and simmer for about 1½ hours, adding more stock if it seems needed to cover the vegetables well.

Meanwhile, put garlic, parsley, rosemary, Parmesan and chilli into a mortar and pound to a paste. Push this pesto mixture through a sieve and set aside. (Alternatively, use a food processor, then sieve.)

Toss the pasta into the soup and cook until tender, then stir in the pesto mixture. Stir and allow to stand for a few minutes. Ladle out into bowls, cover with grated cheese and serve immediately.