A heart-warming minestrone soup with harissa meatballs, perfect for winter

It's really more of a full meal than a starter soup and definitely one to try as the days get colder...thank Melanie Johnson.

Serves 6


  • Olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 4 sticks celery, diced
  • 2 courgettes, diced
  • 2 x 400g cans tomatoes
  • 400g vegetable stock
  • 3tbspn pesto
  • A few sprigs fresh oregano
  • A handful basil, chopped
  • 200g cavolo nero, cut into thin ribbons
  • 100g Swiss chard, cut into thin ribbons
  • 1 tin cannellini beans, drained
  • 100g macaroni
  • For the meatballs
  • 800g minced beef
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 2 tbspn harissa chilli paste
  • A handful parsley, chopped
  • Parmesan to serve


Heat a splash of olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the diced onion and fry gently until softened, but not browned, then add the diced celery and courgettes. Fry gently to slightly char the edges, then stir in the tomatoes, vegetable stock, pesto and herbs. Mix well and heat through.

Next, add the cavolo nero and Swiss chard, together with the cannellini beans and macaroni. Simmer for 10 minutes, until the macaroni are cooked, and then reduce the heat.

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Meanwhile, make the meatballs. In a large bowl, mix together the minced beef, red onion, harissa and parsley, then season well, taking care to evenly distribute the spice. Take spoonfuls of the mixture and roll them into balls – this quantity will make about 24 meatballs.

Fry them in a splash of neutral oil until browned all over and cooked through.

To serve the minestrone, ladle the hot soup into bowls and add a few meatballs to each. Grate over Parmesan and serve.