There are two things that inspire me to make this minestrone: cold, rainy weather, and a particular plate of my grandmother’s which is now in my possession. If I see this plate on a winter’s day, it’s guaranteed that I instantly want to make this soup!

I use short pasta in this recipe, such as ditali, or my personal favourite, “mista”, which consists of broken-up and left-over bits of pasta from different packets. You can usually find it in the pasta section at delicatessens, or you can make your own by simply breaking up any left-over bits and bobs of pasta sitting at the back of the pantry.

There’s no need to use vegetable stock here, as the soup makes its own delicious broth as it cooks.

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Minestrone, by Rita Macali of Melbourne's Supermaxi

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 70 minutes (including 60 minutes simmering)
Serves 6

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
2 cloves garlic peeled and smashed using the side of a knife
1 brown onion, diced (optional)
150g potato, cut into bite-sized chunks
200g (1 cup) canned crushed tomatoes
200g (1 cup) canned lentils, rinsed and drained
180g (1 cup) canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
170g (1 cup) canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
125g zucchini, cut into bite-sized chunks
85g (1 cup) savoy cabbage, chopped
65g cauliflower florets, cut into bite- sized chunks
Handful fresh basil leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
50–55g ditali pasta
Grated parmesan for serving
Finely diced long red chilli for serving (optional)

Heat the oil and garlic in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and cook for 5 minutes or until the garlic is golden brown. Remove using a slotted spoon and discard.
Add the onion, if using, and saute for 6–7 minutes, until soft. Add the potato and crushed tomatoes and stir for about 1 minute, then add the tinned legumes, remaining vegetables and basil.

Cover with 1.5–1.8L of water, season generously with salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Cook, stirring frequently so the ingredients don’t stick and burn on the base of the pan, for about 1 hour, until the vegetables are completely soft.

Towards the end of the cooking time, add the pasta and cook according to the packet instructions (don’t overcook). Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top with some grated parmesan, a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and maybe some chopped fresh chilli.

This is an extract from the Broadsheet cookbook Home Made, which features 80 diverse recipes for home cooking, sourced from Melbourne's best cooks, chefs and restaurants. Published by Plum, the book is available for $49.95 at