Souper-hero Minestrone

You will certainly have super-heros on your hands after they devour this hearty, warming and nutritious soup. There is a great selection of fun pasta shapes available now, choose wholemeal where possible. Spinach or other green leafy veg like cabbage, kale or swiss chard pack a punch with their iron content. The chick-peas and bacon provide plenty of protein and it goes without saying that the kids will devour plenty of vegetables without complaint. Any leftovers can be reheated and kept warm in a flask for work or school lunch.

1 onion

1 carrot

1 celery stick

1 small courgette

1 garlic clove

1 tbsp sunflower oil

150g diced pancetta or bacon lardons

600ml chicken or vegetable stock

400g can chopped tomatoes

400g can chick-peas

50g small dried pasta shapes (or 25g if really tiny)

50g spinach

Large handful fresh basil leaves, optional

25g finely grated parmesan

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Finely chop the onion, carrot, celery and courgette and crush the garlic. Heat the oil in a large pan on a medium heat and saute the prepared vegetables and pancetta for 4-5 minutes until beginning to soften and catch colour.
Add the stock, tomatoes, chick-peas, pasta and seasoning to the soup and bring to the boil. Reduce to simmer for about 10 minutes or until the pasta and vegetables are tender.
Meanwhile, roughly chop the spinach and then stir it in last minute with almost all of the basil (if using) until just wilted and remove from the heat. Serve straight away garnished with the remaining basil (if using) and a little parmesan if liked.

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