Sunday, 5 February 2012


There was great excitement in our house yesterday as the frost stayed in the garden all day. All the family kept staring expectantly at the grey sky hoping for snow.

With snow imminent I went into hibernation mode and got busy making vats of soup to satisfy hungry young and old. 

The smells of freshly baked bread filled the kitchen as we got busy kneading focaccia dough to accompany our simmering vegetable minestrone.

easy winter minestrone bean soup

Preparation time under 5 minutes
Cooking time 20 mins

I onion
1-2 courgettes
2 cloves of garlic
1 stick celery
1 400g tin of borlotti beans- drained and rinsed
2 heaped tsp red pesto

1 litre of good veg stock

Glug of olive oil for frying

 A Handful of pasta or broken spaghetti

 If you can find it Stellette n.75, the cutest mini star shaped pasta it is worth it. 
It looks great, and has a novelty value for those eating it and  you really only need about 30g of this.

 A word of warning though:
I used a mug full of this dinky pasta once and it swelled up so much the soup became a sludge SO BEWARE LESS IS MORE!  


1.     Slice the onion, celery, courgettes and garlic put in large sauce pan with good slug of olive oil and fry gently until soft.

2.     Add red pesto stir in then add the stock and the borlotti beans and cook for 10 minutes.

3.      Depending on the cooking time of your pasta add and then keep an eye on it until done so about 7 minutes for the Stellette.

Serve piping hot with parmesan curls and wholesome bread....

Parmesan Cheese Curls

Now bread...If you have the time I suggest having a go at making  

Rosemary and red onion focaccia

A handful of Rosemary

If you have a bread maker this is quite easy but don’t despair it is also simple to make without one

 Just make sure you start to prepare this 2 1/2 hours before you want to eat it!

Preparation time: 15 mins rising time 1 hr 30
Cooking time: 25-30 mins
start to eating 2 ½ hrs                 

Rosemary and red onions


210 ml/7 ½fl oz Water
15ml/1tbsp olive oil
350g/12 oz unbleached strong white bread flour
 2.5ml/1/2 tsp salt
5ml/1tsp granulated sugar
5ml/1tsp quick dried yeast
15ml/1tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 small sliced red onion- save a few thin slices to sprinkle on the top

For the top

2 good tbsp olive oil
Generous handful rosemary
2 tbsp coarse sea salt
Black pepper
Few slices of red onion 


1.     Put the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Gradually mix in the oil and water until you have a smooth elastic dough. This will take about  5 minutes.
2.     Let the dough rise somewhere warm for about an hour to hour and a half or until the mixture has doubled in size.
3.     Then take the dough out of the bowl and knead gently put the onions and rosemary into the dough, then flatten and shape to a circle. I use a pizza dish and just stretch the dough out to cover the tray.  
It can be quite sticky at this stage DON’T WORRY..Just add some more flour to the work top and your hands...this is normal..honestly

4.      Leave it to rise again.
5.     Then make indents with your fingers all over the dough. Sprinkle with rough sea salt, rosemary, onion and olive oil and place in the oven at 180
6.     Bake for about 20-25 minutes so it is still soft. 

Focaccia dough ready to go in the oven!

Put the wet ingredients in the pan first followed by flour, sugar, salt and yeast and put on the dough program.
When ready follow from step 3 above.

Rosemary and red onion focaccia

Still no snow here,
 but at least the food's Delicious!!! 

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