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First-ever Great Australian Bake Off winner, Sian Redgrave, dropped by the GI News Kitchen and effortlessly threw together a minestrone to make the most of new season winter veg. She may have taken out top prize in 2015 with her impressive layered dessert of profiteroles topping a chocolate mud cake (not one for us), but what she loves to cook most of all is simple, flavoursome Italian fare. Watch this space.


The key to making a minestrone (or any soup) says Sian is not rushing to get a meal on the table, but relaxing and enjoying the cooking time in the kitchen, adding each vegetable at the right moment to preserve and enhance its flavour. Sian used ditalini pasta, a tiny pasta that’s perfect for minestrone or pasta e fagioli. Barilla was the brand she found. As for the potato, look for a lower GI one if you can such as Carisma, Nadine or Nicola.
Prep: 15 mins • Cook: 45 mins • Serves: 6


3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red chilli, seeded, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 red onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
3 medium carrots, diced
3 lean rashers bacon, diced
Chunk parmesan rind
1 bay leaf
1 medium potato, diced
4 cups good quality chicken stock
1 can cherry tomatoes, drained (reserving the liquid)
½ cup ditalini pasta
1 can borlotti beans, drained
1 zucchini, cut into rounds
2 handfuls finely sliced cabbage
2 handfuls finely sliced cavolo nero

To serve

1 tablespoon basil pesto
Grated parmesan
Handful basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

In a soup pot, place the olive oil, garlic, chilli, oregano and onion and cook until the onion is translucent and caramelised. • Stir in the carrots, celery, and bacon and continue cooking until they start to soften. • Add the parmesan rind, potato, reserved tomato juice, and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potato is nearly cooked. • Add the pasta and cook until almost al dente. • Stir in the beans, then add the cabbage, cavolo nero, zucchini and cherry tomatoes and let them heat through for 1–2 minutes – no longer as you want them to retain the vibrancy and texture of the greens. • Serve with parmesan cheese (grated or finely peeled with a vegetable peeler), little dollops of pesto dollops and basil leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Per serve 
1520 kJ/ 365 calories; 17g protein; 16g fat (includes 4g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 0.33); 31g available carbs (includes 10g sugars and 21g starch); 12g fibre; 1348mg sodium; 1007mg potassium; sodium : potassium ratio 1.34.


Kate Hemphill is a trained chef. She contributed the recipes to Ian Hemphill’s best-selling Spice and Herb Bible. You will find more of her recipes on the Herbies spices website. Kate’s recipes are made with Herbies spices, but you can use whatever you have in your pantry or that’s available locally.

Mexican Carrot Soup
One of the highlights of a trip to Mexico was discovering soup with slices of avocado and soft cheese. Add them just before serving so they warm and melt into the soup. If the chipotle powder garnish is too hot for you, sprinkle with smoked paprika instead.
Prep: 10 mins • Cook: 40 mins • Serves: 4

 Mexican Carrot Soup

1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 tsp Mexican spice blend
1 kg (1lb 2oz) carrots, peeled and chopped into chunks
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 ripe avocado, peeled and sliced
250g (9oz) queso asadero or firm mozzarella, cut into 1cm (½in) dice
1 cup fresh coriander leaves

To serve
crème fraiche or light sour cream
Chipotle powder
Toasted corn tortillas

Sweat the onions, covered, in a little oil until soft. Add spices, cook for 1 minute, then add carrots and stock. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until carrots are very tender. Puree soup until smooth, and season to taste. • Divide avocado and mozzarella between shallow soup bowls, then ladle over soup. Add a dollop of crème fraiche and garnish with coriander leaves and chipotle powder and serve immediately.

Per serve
2270 kJ/ 542 calories; 21g protein; 30g fat (includes 14g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 0.88); 40g available carbs (includes 17g sugars and 23g starch); 14 fibre; 1855mg sodium; 1080mg potassium; sodium : potassium ratio 1.72.



We ran this recipe from Alan’s book, Reversing Diabetes, in 2016. Peter Johnson, one of our readers, recently made it on a very warm morning in Sydney, enjoyed some with lunch with his wife and sent us feedback and a photo. Here’s his report.

“Firstly, although I rested the dough for 15 minutes before attempting to knead it, I found it to be far too wet for comfort. I added flour using a shaker and I guess about 125 grams before it seemed ‘right’. I did add 1½ teaspoons salt. The dough only took 1 hour to complete the first rise. The second rise in the bread tin was very quick too; in fact, I barely had time to preheat the oven. However, the loaf cooked beautifully. It is a dense loaf – which I like – and is very tasty. Next time though I won’t sprinkle seeds on top. They simply fell off after cooking and created a mess. I hope the feedback gives an incentive to others to make this loaf. I’ve been trying other similar recipes but yours is a winner and I will be making it again. I’ve been making bread, purely as an unqualified cook, for over 40 years and still love the process – and the product.”


 Daily bread For trivia fans, we have just discovered thanks to the Dutch Anglo-Saxonist, that “the etymology of the Old English words for lord, lady, retainer and slave reveal rather traditional (perhaps pre-Anglo-Saxon) role patterns in a household based on bread.

  • hlāford ‘lord’ (< *hlāf-weard ‘guardian of the bread’) 
  • hlǣfdige ‘lady, woman’ (< *hlāf-dige ‘kneader of the bread’) 
  • hlāfǣta ‘dependant, retainer’ (< *hlāf-ǣta ‘eater of the bread’) 
  • hlāfbrytta ‘slave’ (< *hlāf-brytta ‘dispenser of the bread’)

“Vocabulary reflects culture. Indeed, Old English words such as gafol-fisc ‘tribute fish’, cēapcniht ‘bought servant’, þri-milce-mōnaþ ‘May; lit. three-milk-month’, demonstrate that the Anglo-Saxons could pay tribute in fish, buy servants and milked their cows three times a day in May.”