(Nearly) all my family ate their dinner last night and I call that a win!

Kinderling News & Features

Whoever gets home first cooks dinner at our place.  And that means my husband cooks weeknights and I cook on the weekend.

This division has meant that I don’t get a lot of practice at making meals my family will eat.

My approach to cooking is a bit like my approach to life. I plan. Both the details of what is required, and the time it is required in.

The brief: Nutritious and tasty! 

Sometimes I get a bit ambitious. Pre-kids I once cooked a Moussaka for friends that was served close to midnight. These days my greatest ambition is that it be full of nutritious goodness and that they will eat it.

The latter part of my ambition is continually thwarted.

Slow cooker dreams vs reality

I’ve done slow cooked lamb shanks on mash that no one touched. I did a whole pot full of chicken soup that got thrown in the bin. I cooked salmon that my husband smothered in Tobasco and my children refused to eat. With each failed dish my anxiety and frustration levels increase.

In desperation I turned to the best resource of reliable information: Facebook.

I posted a question asking parents for their best (and easiest) slow cooked meal that everyone eats.

And then – bingo! I tried a recipe for minestrone that while not a slow cooker option was completely delicious and everyone (bar my fussiest child) not only ate, but loved!

I even liked it!

So – here’s hoping the magic that touched me with this recipe will help your family also:

Delia's Minestrone with macaroni

Ingredients

  • 50g smoked, streaky bacon or pancetta, derinded and finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped 2 celery stalks, washed and finely chopped
  • 175g carrots, washed and finely chopped
  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 225g leeks, washed and finely chopped
  • 175g green cabbage, washed and finely shredded
  • 75g shortcut macaroni
  • 25g butter 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1.5 litres) good chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 level dessertspoon tomato purée
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh torn basil salt and freshly milled black pepper

To serve: lots of grated Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano)

Method

  1. First heat up the butter and oil in a large saucepan, then add the bacon or pancetta and cook this for a minute or two before adding the onion, followed by the celery and carrots and then the tomatoes.
  2. Now stir in the crushed garlic and some salt and pepper, then cover and cook very gently for 20 minutes or so, to allow the vegetables to sweat – give it an occasional stir to prevent the vegetables sticking.
  3. Then pour in the stock and bring to the boil and simmer gently (covered) for about one hour. To prepare the leeks, first take the tough green ends off and throw them out, then make a vertical split about halfway down the centre of each one and clean them by running them under the cold water tap while you fan out the layers - this will rid them of any hidden dust and grit. Finely chop them.
  4. When the hour is up, stir the leeks, cabbage, macaroni and tomato puree into the stock and cook, uncovered for a further 10 minutes or until the pasta is cooked. 
  5. Finally, stir in the parsley and basil and serve the minestrone in warmed soup bowls, sprinkled with parmesan cheese.