This gloriously flavoursome, thick minestone soup, with light, fluffy parmesan dumplings will provide a great lunchtime meal especially when accompanied with some crusty bread. Alternatively, serve as a starter to any Italian main course.
If time is tight, the dumplings can be quickly put together whilst the soup is left to cook, else I find it preferable to make the dumpling mixture up first and refridgerate it to help everything bind together.
- Sieve the flour into a mixing bowl, then add the suet, baking powder, salt, black pepper, parsley, parmesan and garlic. Give everything a quick stir and then form a well in the middle of the mixture.
- Slowly add in the water, bit by bit, stirring the mixture together as you go to form an unlumpy, elastic dough. Once the mixture begins to take shape, use your hands to knead it together and pick up any remaining loose flour. It is imperative not to add too much water too quickly, as the mixture will soon become a sticky, unwieldy mess. But if things do begin to get a little sticky, add some more flour in to compensate.
- If making the dumpling mixture up first, put your springy dough into the fridge now.
- Place a large saucepan over a medium heat and glug in your olive oil. Add in the onion, pepper, carrot and garlic and then fry for 5 minutes until the onion turns translucent.
- Add the courgette and mushrooms and cook for another 3 minutes or so until the mushrooms soften.
- Pour over the red wine and turn up the heat to fry off the alcohol. Then add the water, tomatoes and juice, tomato purée, both cans of beans (having been drained), the fresh parsley and dried chives, before finally seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Give the soup a stir, bring it to a simmer and then cover and cook on a low heat for 20 minutes, stirring very occasionally.
- After the allotted time, give the soup another good stir and then taste. Add any extra seasoning as necessary. Once you are happy, divide the dumpling mixture evenly and then add your dumplings to the pot one by one, submerging them afterward with the back of a spoon. Cover and cook for another 10 minutes.
- To serve, ladle a dumpling or two into a bowl and then spoon soup all around. Finish off with a healthy grating of parmesan and a quick grind of black pepper.