WHEN WE think of Mediterranean countries, we think about sitting on beautiful beaches on hot summer days, feeling the warm sun on our skin as we sip ice cold drinks during the day, before heading out to eat delicious food on warm summer nights.

What we do not often consider is that even countries like Italy do not always have the best weather.

Spring in Italy is a time when green vegetables are at their best, and while I wanted to bring you recipe perfect for spring, I don’t think we are quite ready for spring dishes in the UK just yet.

There is one dish, however, that is perfect for combining the use of spring ingredients with something deliciously comforting in this still chilly weather.

Minestrone soup is one of those dishes almost everyone has heard of, that they quickly and easily associate with Italian cuisine.

As is always the case, this dish has many origin stories, but its history is so vague that there is not even an agreed upon recipe for the soup, meaning that depending on where you go, or who prepares it for you, it will likely differ in ingredients.

The soup is made from many different ingredients, meaning that it is a dish that adapts to the time of year it is made, and for that reason it will always boast seasonable vegetables.

Minestrone is part of what is known in Italy as “cucina povera” – literally “poor kitchen”, meaning poorer people’s cuisine.

It was originally a dish made exclusively to use up leftovers; it was a very humble dish intended to be cheap and filling – and most likely eaten as a main course.

These days you will find it on restaurant menus and it will be a firm favourite for some people.

The soup does not just range in ingredients, it ranges in texture too, with some making it thicker while others prefer a much thinner consistency.

One version may have significantly boiled-down vegetables whereas another may be more like a broth with chopped up vegetables inside.

The best thing about minestrone is that, while Italians might prefer not to eat hot soups during the summer, the warmer months are one of the best times from fresh vegetables.

Instead, if it is warm out, Italians will serve the soup at room temperature, so that it can be enjoyed without being too warming.

No matter what temperature or what ingredients you include, minestrone soup is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed anyway you fancy it.