The secret to an authentic minestrone is to add the vegetables in layers - soffritto - which should be cooked slowly over low heat. By adding the vegetables this way the flavours build whilst giving the cooking time to dice the vegetables.
In addition to the base of onion, carrots, celery and potatoes you can, of course, use a selection of vegetables including fennel, artichokes, Cavolo Nero, kale etc.
4 tbs olive oil
2 large onions - diced
2 medium carrots - diced
4 sticks celery - diced
1 large or 2 small potatoes - diced
150g French beans - cut into 2.5cm pieces
2 medium courgettes - diced
1/2 Savoy cabbage - shredded
4 large tomatoes - diced
400g can chopped tomatoes
400g can cannellini beans
Parmigiana Reggiano rind
Grated Parmigiana Reggiano for serving
Place your largest saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil and butter, once the butter has melted add the onions and cook until soft and a light golden brown.
Add the carrots and cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the celery and cook for a further 2-3 minutes and then the potatoes followed by the green beans then courgettes each time cooking for a few minutes and stirring to ensure the vegetables do not stick. Add the shredded cabbage and cook until it has wilted.
Add the chopped fresh and tinned tomatoes and enough water to barely cover the vegetables. Season and add the Parmigiana rind, cover then gently simmer for about 2 1/2 hours stirring occasionally.
Add the cannelloni beans and cook for a further 30 minutes or so. Remove the Parmigiana rind and add further seasoning if necessary.
Serve with grated Parmigiana.
The soup tastes even better the next day.