In Italian, a minestra is a soup, but a minestrone is a BIG soup – a nourishing meal in itself. Tender and moist chicken meatballs and a host of seasonal herbs and vegetables enhance the depth of flavour in this delicious one-bowl meal.
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
250 g skinless chicken breast fillet, cut into chunks
¼ cup (25 g) porridge oats
⅓ cup (80 ml) low-fat milk
¼ cup (20 g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
⅓ cup (20 g) firmly packed chopped fresh basil
2 cups (500 ml) salt-reduced chicken stock
1 tin (about 400 g) no-salt-added chopped tomatoes
2 cups (500 ml) water
¾ cup (80 g) farfallini (small bow tie pasta)
300 g silverbeet or cabbage, shredded
1 yellow or green zucchini, quartered lengthways and thickly sliced
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Heat the oil in a medium non-stick saucepan over a low heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes or until the onion is tender. Transfer to a medium bowl and cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, place the chicken in a food processor and pulse on and off until finely minced. Transfer the chicken to the bowl with the onion mixture.
Add the oats, milk, 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan and 2 tablespoons of the basil, and mix to combine. Gently shape the mixture into 24 small meatballs.
Combine the stock, tomatoes and water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil over a high heat. Add the pasta and silverbeet and cook for 5 minutes.
Reduce to a simmer.
Add the remaining basil and the meatballs, and cook for 1 minute. Add the zucchini, cover with a lid and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through and the silverbeet is tender. Serve sprinkled with the remaining Parmesan.
Some more ideas…
• Make the meatballs using turkey breast instead of chicken. Or combine 125 g each lean minced beef and turkey or chicken. • There are many small pasta shapes that are suitable for this soup. Try conchigliette (small shell pasta) or even macaroni.
Most canned vegetables and legumes have salt added during the canning process. When shopping for canned ingredients, look for ones that have no added salt.