With seasonal vegetables and a generous dollop of homemade pesto, minestrone makes a luxurious meal for the whole family
With one daughter podding peas, the other doing the broad beans and the littlest eating more of the raw peas than is helpful, making this minestrone together one afternoon ensured its popularity come teatime.
This is the kind of food that makes life that little bit easier - it is equally well liked by children and the adults who feed them. Masses of vegetables, various carbohydrates along with the ever popular basil pesto.
It all transfers very nicely to a more adult-appropriate supper when the kids have hit the sack, so makes feeding the whole family a cinch. For the pesto, try to get basil that looks verdant and smells sweet and pungent.
½ large white onion, finely diced
4 spring onions, finely sliced
2 fat cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 courgette, diced
80g orzo pasta (or similar small pasta)
3 or 4 new potatoes, peeled and diced
100g broad beans, podded
75g peas, podded
3 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and diced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt (less if you like)
¼ lemon, juiced
500ml boiling water or chicken stock
Sweat the onion in a large, heavy-based pan over a gentle heat for five minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and spring onion and cook for a further five or so minutes.
Add the diced courgette and cook until soft - about another five minutes.
Meanwhile, boil the kettle. Make a slit in the skin of the tomatoes with a sharp knife, put them in a bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Leave immersed for 10 seconds. Run them under the tap: the skin should have blistered and be easy to slip off. Dice the skinned tomatoes.
In a second pan of boiling water, add the potatoes and bring to the boil, then add the orzo and cook the two together for seven minutes, until cooked. Add the broad beans for the last minute of cooking.
Slip the broad beans out of their skins and add to the courgette mix along with the raw peas, potatoes and orzo.
Add the diced tomatoes and the hot water or stock.
Bring the minestrone to the boil, add the lemon juice and check for seasoning.
Serve with the pesto to dollop at the table.
For the pesto
75g parmesan, grated
50g basil leaves
½ clove of garlic, minced
50g pine nuts, toasted in a dry frying pan over moderate heat until golden brown
75g olive oil
Put the cheese, basil and the garlic into the food processor and work to a paste.
Add the pine nuts and blitz, retaining some texture.
Add the oil and blitz again.
To store, cover the pesto with extra olive oil, making sure it is completely submerged. It will keep well in the fridge for up to two weeks.
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Minestrone with pesto. Photographs: Claire Thomson for the Guardian