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Eat in the heat #5 Summer minestrone with kale pesto

Summer has arrived in Barbados and it's gone from being hot with a breeze to hot and humid. It's the kind of weather that reminds me of balmy summer holidays on the Adriatic coast of Italy where we'd sit at the local Trattoria drinking red wine and eating delicious bowls of minestrone with crusty bread. This was a summer soup, fresh with slithers of courgette and carrot, flavoured with rich stock, morsels of bacon and peppery olive oil.

If it wasn't for the fact that my children tend to be fussy about soups, we'd eat a lot more of them. Anything tomatoey is fine. Other vegetables, when they're blended to make a creamy soup, are not. Recently though, I discovered that they do like clear soups. The kind laced with sweet carrots or peas, pieces of tender chicken, slithers of bacon or stock-soaked chickpeas and a sprinking of herbs. They call this broth and even seem to enjoy the fact that it's healthful.

This summer minestrone was slurped down on a recent hot evening like a treat. It was refreshing, tasty and the kale pesto added an emerald dash of deliciousness. You've seriously got to try it.

Summer minestrone

Good glug of extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion

2 sticks of celery

3 carrots

3 garlic cloves

1 large or 2 small courgettes

Small handful of green leafy vegetable such as spinach or kale

One 400g tin of chickpeas or equal weight dried chickpeas cooked in stock

1 litre of vegetable or chicken stock, ideally homemade

Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Small bunch fresh parsley

Dice the onion, celery and carrot. Slice the courgette into thin rounds and the kale or spinach into ribbons. Finely chop the garlic.

Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onion, celery and carrot. Stir until soft. Then add the garlic and stir until lighly browned.

Next add the stock with the chickpeas and cook for around 10 minutes before adding the courgette and greens. After five minutes add the salt, pepper and parsely to taste. Serve with good, fresh bread (recipe here) and kale pesto.

Kale Pesto

(adapted from Hemsley and Hemsley: the art of eating well - my absolute fave cookbook right now.)

30g cashew nuts

100g kale, stalks removed and roughly chopped

100g basil, chopped (I find combining it with the kale makes the pesto sweeter and more palatable for children)

2 garlic cloves

200ml extra virgin olive oil

Generous grating of good quality fresh parmesan

zest and juice of 1/2 unwaxed lemon

sea salt and black pepper to taste

Pop all ingredients in a blender and whizz until you have a smooth, silky paste. Add more olive oil/ lemon juice to taste to thin and make into more of a sauce or dressing. Serve at the table for drizzling over the bowls of soup.

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