Winter soup for bonfires and frosty days

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Sunday of the long weekend dawned bright and cold; my favourite kind of winter day, and so we invited a few mates around for a bonfire that afternoon. One mate in particular, the lovely Anna Derham, excelled herself by bringing out a huge vat of her amazing winter minestrone soup (recipe below) which we kept hot on a small pile of coals. It was the best of days – lots of happy people, kids running wild, red wine, good food and crisp blue skies. Sigh.

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Anna’s winter minestrone

This is the perfect winter soup – hearty, tasty, full of veggies and super good for you. Thanks Anna! Serves 6-8.

2 x red onions, peeled and diced
1 x swede, peeled and diced
1 x parsnip, peeled and diced
4 rashers smokey bacon, cut into strips
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 sticks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
bunch basil, finely chopped (even the stalks)
2 x 400g tins tomatoes
glass red wine
1 bunch spinach, shredded, stalks removed
750ml chicken stock or veggie stock
1 handful fregola or pearl barley
100g risoni pasta
1 x can cannellini beans

Heat a slug of olive oil in a large pot on medium high. Add the veggies, bacon, crushed garlic and finely chopped basil stalks. Sweat on low heat until softened (about 15 mins). Add shredded spinach leaves, stock, pasta and fregola/pearl barley and simmer for 30 min or until pearl barley is cooked. Stir in beans, cook for a few more minutes to heat through and garnish with basil and shaved parmesan. Season to taste.

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We love a bonfire/paddock picnic and have them as often as possible. Here are some more recipes and things we love to do/share and make for these kinds of days.


  1. says

    I agree Sophie. We did almost the same thing last weekend, friends and family met up in a big old (dry) creek bed. We lit a fire, cooked food and had a few drinks while the children ran wild. No houses to clean or worry about…just fresh air and fun for everyone. We do this most weekends in the winter, even when it is just my family at home. Gorgeous photos, you have captured winter so beautifully. Keep the sourdough updates coming x

  2. Adele says

    That looks lovely! Just wanted to say — I tried out your orange dark chocolate and almond loaf from the Winter Baking PDF book last night for a dinner party, and it was absolutely spectacular and perfect for the warm weather! Mine wasn’t as pretty as your picture, but honestly one of the most delicious cakes I’ve ever made. Really forgiving recipe, which was great; I was quite worried it wasn’t going to work (as I don’t have an egg beater so all the whisking was by hand, which isn’t quite the same thing for “tripling the volume” of a recipe!) but it turned out perfectly. Threw in some cloves when poaching the oranges, too. Thanks so much for the recipe! Everyone absolutely loved it, and needless to say there weren’t any leftovers.

    • Adele says

      And that should be cold weather, whoops! “Warm” is definitely not the right word for when it’s getting down to -4C!

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