Pumpkin & Chickpea Minestrone
Minestrone is a thick soup of Italian origin made with vegetables, often with the addition of pasta or rice.
Traditionally, minestrone was prepared as a way to use up the vegetables available in the kitchen, and especially those that are hard to digest without a long cooking. For this reason it is considered one of the most typical examples of Italian peasant cuisine.
Over time, however, and with food trends rediscovering our most traditional dishes, minestrone has become a very international, sometimes also offered by the most sought-after restaurants.
While common ingredients include beans, onions, carrots, celery, potatoes and tomatoes, minestrone is a dish that varies according to the region and the season and comes in many versions, making it impossible to uniquely define the recipe.
Generally speaking, you start with soffritto - onion, celery and carrot sautéed in olive oil, to which the chosen vegetables are then added, cut into more or less fine pieces. Next, you add stock or water (or both), seasoning, and them simmer on a medium-low flame until all vegetables and beans (or lentils) are cooked through.
Lastly, minestrone is often enriched with grated Parmesan or other cheese (which varies based on the region) before serving.
Ingredients, method of preparation, consistency and even the way to consume it vary according to the tradition of the place where the different recipes were born. One of the most notable variations is the Genoese minestrone which involves adding pesto before serving it on the table.
For this version, I combined chickpeas and pumpkin as the 2 main ingredients. And let me tell you - it was possibly my new favourite version of minestrone!!
I love to make this in my instant pot - it's so quick and the whole dish comes together in 25 minutes, including cooking the chickpeas. If you don't have an instant pot, you can use a pressure cooker, or even cook on the stove, though in the latter case you will need to double the cooking time or pre-cook the chickpeas.
Hope you give it a go.
Ingredients (for 4)
1 cup of dried chickpeas, soaked overnight (alternatively, use 1 400g can of cooked chickpeas)
350g of peeled and deseeded pumpkin or butternut squash
2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1 bay leaf
2 stalks of celery, chopped finely
1 white onion, chopped finely
1 large carrot, chopped finely
2 litres of vegetable stock
280g of pasta (any small shape will do), at home we normally use egg pasta but it's up to you
Grated caciocavallo or parmigiano to top
Salt and pepper to taste
As I mentioned, I make this minestrone in my instant pot. You can also use a pressure cooker following the same steps. For stovetop cooking, double cooking times.
Turn the instant pot on Sautè-High mode and add the oil, bay leaf. Make a soffritto by mixing very finely chopped onion, carrot and celery and add it to the pot.
Season with salt, pepper, add chickpeas, cubed pumpkin and give it a good stir. Sautè for about 2 minutes.
Now, switch to pressure cook mode. Add the veggie stock, put on the lid, seal the valve and pressure cook for 20 minutes. Release the steam and open.
If the soup is too thick, add a little water. Switch back to Sautè-High mode, without the lid and as soon as it starts to boil, thrown in the pasta and cook for another 5 minutes.
Serve topped with grated caciocavallo or parmigiano cheese.