• 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 6 bacon rashers (fat trimmed and discarded), chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 small carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1⁄2 large leek, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 medium potatoes, diced
  • 1.2 litres low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 250ml tomato passata
  • 80g macaroni pasta
  • 60g of kale or cavolo nero, leaves stripped from the
  • inner ribs and chopped
    6 fresh basil leaves, torn

For the wild nettle pesto:

  • 100g wild nettles
  • 100g fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for
  • serving
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
  • 200ml rapeseed oil
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Serves 6


First make the pesto. Use thick gloves to pick the nettles, then wash them thoroughly (a salad spinner would work well here).
Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil, then add the nettles and blanch for 2 or 3 minutes. This will get rid of the formic acid and remove their sting. Drain in a colander, then squeeze out all the water (remember, they should be safe to handle now that the sting has been cooked out of them).

Put the blanched nettles in a food processor with the parsley, garlic, Parmesan and pine nuts. With the motor running, slowly pour in the oil. You may need to scrape down the sides of the food processor a few times with a spatula. You want the pesto to be quite thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make the minestrone, melt the butter and oil together in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the bacon and fry for 3 or 4 minutes, then use a slotted spoon to transfer it to a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb any excess fat.

Lower the heat to medium, then add the onion, carrots, celery and leek. Cook for 10 minutes, until softened, then add the garlic and tomato purée and cook for 1 or 2 minutes more.

Add the bacon back in along with the potatoes, stock, bay leaves and thyme. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are nearly cooked.

Stir in the passata, macaroni and kale (though if you’re planning on cooking this ahead of time, cook the pasta separately and add it to the soup when you are reheating it). Cook for a further 10 to 15 minutes, until the pasta is cooked. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then stir in the basil.

To serve, divide the minestrone between warmed bowls, top with a generous spoonful of the wild nettle pesto and scatter over some extra grated Parmesan.

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