This is for the days when I feel, shall we say, a touch harried. Being able to set the table and put out some bread and cheese while this (ersatz, but none the worse for it, taste-wise) soup gets together calms me down, and the sheer fact of a (semi) home-cooked meal makes even a tense day seem calmer.
Minestrone 'Molto Pronto'
500ml vegetable stock (or chicken, if you prefer)
300g 'special mixed' frozen vegetables
400g can chopped tomatoes
400g can pasta in tomato sauce
Bring the stock to the boil and tip in the still-frozen vegetables. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the contents of both the cans, stirring well. Season with plenty of black pepper (I don't bother with salt; those cans of pasta-in-sauce are quite salty enough). Leave to heat through thoroughly on a medium setting.
If you always have the wherewithal to cook a panful of this in the house, you'll never struggle for dinner, and it's one that will delight children and adults alike. So cheap, too (ignoring the approximate ton of cheese we always put away when I make this for supper) - I used bargain basics tomatoes and spaghetti in tomato sauce tonight; it tasted no different to when I've made it with the fancier equivalents. You can ring the changes for those fickle enfants terribles by using different types of character pasta-in-sauce too - Spiderman has been particularly popular in our house - and I love making it with Alphabetti ! I'm easily pleased, I know, but the little letters (and you can now get Numberetti) always make me smile.