Matthew Hopcraft's Minestrone

A great low sugar family dinner recipe from dentist and father Matthew Hopcraft.


Would you believe that tinned minestrone contains 5.2 grams of sugar per serve? Here is a great version that you can make yourself, and pack full of flavour and goodness.

Serves: 6-8 



60ml extra virgin olive oil 

4 slices bacon 

2 onions, diced 

2 sticks celery, diced 

2 carrots, diced 

1 leek, diced 

3 cloves garlic, crushed 

1 small bunch fresh basil 

400g crushed tomatoes 

1 zucchini, diced 

400 g tin cannellini beans 

1 handful green beans, sliced 

250ml red wine 

1L vegetable 


2L water 

150g dried pasta 

1 handful of spinach 

5cm piece of parmigiano-reggiano, grated and rind reserved 


black pepper 



Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the bacon, onion, celery, carrot, leek, garlic and finely sliced basil stems and a good pinch of salt. 

Sauté the vegetables over low heat for around 15 to 20 minutes until soft, but not brown. Add the tomatoes, zucchini, cannellini beans, green beans and red wine and simmer gently for 15 minutes. 

Add the stock and water and bring to the boil. Add the pasta, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. 

Add the spinach, basil leaves and parmigiano-reggiano rind and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Serve with some grated parmigiano-reggiano on top. 

This is a great healthy and warming soup, and makes plenty to have left-over the next day. The pasta will absorb a lot of the liquid overnight, so add some extra water when you re-heat. Throwing in some parmigiano-reggiano rind really adds a umami hit to the minestrone - keep left-over rind in the freezer until you need it to make some soup.