Aldi had a sale of camping equipment today, including their wonderful thermal cookers.
Seeing the catalogue prompted me to use one of my two (!) thermal pots this morning. (I was multi tasking while cooking breakfast).
My "recipe" for Minestrone-ish is more of a loose guideline as it varies depending on ingredients on hand. There were various omissions and substitutions this morning.
I was going to use frozen peas, corn and carrot mix in lieu of fresh carrots but I'd already used the last of the mixed vegetable packet.
There was only about half a zucchini due to using the other half for breakfast. Similarly, I raided bacon and chorizo from the breakfast portions. (Other times I've used left-over cooked sausage). I'm not entirely sure I put the garlic in. Anyway, it'll still work out - trust me!
The usual inclusions are:-
1 onion (chopped)
1-2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 rashers of bacon (chopped)
2 medium carrots (chopped)
1-2 zucchini (chopped)
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 tin baked beans
1 tin kidney beans (drained)
1 tin cannellini beans (drained)
Green beans (fresh, frozen or dried)
A few handfuls of dried pasta (or broken spaghetti, whatever is available)!
Salt, pepper, oregano
The method is simple. I use the large inner pot of the thermal cooker. Fry the onion, garlic and bacon in a little olive oil. Add the carrot and zucchini and let them cook for a few minutes before tipping in the tinned tomatoes, baked beans and other (drained) beans. I rinse the tomato and baked bean tins to make sure I get all the contents. I probably put 4-6 tins of water into the pot.
My water content is guided by the fact that I sit the smaller top pot into the larger one. The small pot is filled with boiling water, to create the maximum heat bank inside the thermal cooker. A full thermal cooker retains heat for much longer.
Add salt and pepper to taste, a generous amount of dried oregano and stock powder to match your water content. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes before putting into the insulated outer pot. I then place the smaller pot of boiling water into the top, put the inner lid on and close down the outer pot. Done!
Well, almost done. About half an hour before serving I tip a couple of handfuls of dried pasta into the soup and give it a stir - then close everything down again until we are ready to eat. Easy!