Monday, September 25, 2017

Welcome the sun with minestrone

Phyo’s Cooking Adventure

Monsoon is definitely on its way out, and now is a good time to have a nice, warm, cheesy soup for those occasional, lingering rainy days. This simple, easy-to-make but yummy Italian minestrone soup is just the ticket for chasing those rainy days out of Myanmar and welcoming the sunnier days ahead. Some of the traditional ingredients for this recipe can be difficult to locate in Myanmar, such as risoni pasta and cannellini beans, but it is easy to find substitute beans and suitable vegetables at the local markets. So here is my recipe of minestrone soup, adjusted for the Myanmar kitchen.


(6 servings)

  1. 1 big onion (diced)
  2. 2 carrots (cut into 3cm cubes)
  3. 6 ripe tomatoes (diced)
  4. 1 cup of cauliflower (cut into small pieces)
  5. 1 cup of frozen peas
  6. 8 stalks of Chinese coriander and a few leaves
  7. ¼ cup of butter beans (soaked in water one night before)
  8. 1 cup of cooked shell pasta
  9. ¼ teaspoon of thyme (dried)
  10. ¼ teaspoon of oregano (dried)
  11. ¼ teaspoon of basil (dried)
  12. Chili flakes (optional)
  13. 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and drizzle for soup
  14. 4 cups of Massel salt-reduced chicken stock
  15. Parmigiano grated cheese to serve


Prepare the shell pasta according to the package instructions, but cut three minutes off the suggested cooking time. In my experience, if you would like to have 1 cup of cooked pasta, use ½ cup of raw shells.

Sauté the diced onion in olive oil with medium heat. When the onions are translucent, add thyme, oregano, chili and Chinese coriander, and stir for five minutes.

When the aroma comes out, add the diced tomatoes and fry for eight minutes. Then add chopped carrots and cauliflower and cook for another five minutes. Stir occasionally.

Add the cooked beans, frozen peas and stock, and let the soup boil. Once it starts to boil, cover it with a lid and reduce the heat. Simmer the soup for 45 minutes. Add the partially cooked shell pasta and simmer for another five minutes.

Salt and pepper for taste, and serve with a drizzle of olive oil, grated Parmigiano cheese and garlic bread.


    1. ½ baguette or any bread with crust
    2. 4-5 small cloves of garlic
    3. 1 tablespoon of butter
    4. ¼ teaspoon of dried basil leaves

Crush the garlic and place it with the butter in a small cup. Heat for 20 seconds in a microwave oven with medium heat or until the butter becomes soft. Mix with dried basil leaves.

Cut the bread into slices, but do not cut all the way to the bottom of the baguette. Brush the mixture of butter between the slices then wrap tightly in aluminium foil. Heat the pack over a very slow flame for a few minutes until it warms.

Alternatively, you can toast the bread and spread the butter mixture on top.

Most ingredients are available at the marketplace. Chinese coriander is available at local markets, and baguettes can be found at Sharky’s delicatessen.

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Use more stalks of Chinese coriander with fewer leaves. They are a good substitute for the celery that is normally used in minestrone.

Soaking the butter beans in water overnight will save cooking time. When you are boiling the beans, adding vegetable cutoffs to the water, along with ½ teaspoon of salt, will enhance the flavour.

Do not thaw the frozen peas before cooking, as this will result in overcooking.

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