- 4 rashers of higher-welfare smoked streaky bacon , optional
- olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic
- 2 small onions
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 2 carrots
- 2 sticks of celery
- 2 large handfuls of seasonal greens, such as savoy cabbage, curly kale, chard
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 1 x 400 g tin of quality plum tomatoes
- 2 x 400 g tins of beans, such as cannellini, butter, or mixed
- 100 g dried pasta
- Parmesan cheese , to serve
- extra virgin olive oil
- Put a large shallow casserole pan on a medium-high heat.
- Finely slice the bacon, if using, and sprinkle into the pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, stirring occasionally while you prep your veg.
- Peel and finely chop the garlic and onion, adding the garlic to the pan with the bay leaves as soon as the bacon turns golden, followed by the onions.
- Trim and chop the carrots and celery into rough 1cm dice, adding to the pan as you go. Remove and finely chop any tough stalks from your greens and add to the pan. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring regularly, or until softened and caramelised.
- Crumble in the stock cube, pour in the tinned tomatoes, breaking them up with your spoon, then add 1 tin’s worth of water.
- Pour in the beans, juice and all, then add a pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
- Shred your greens and sprinkle into the pan, top up with 600ml of boiling kettle water, then add the pasta. Cover and leave to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the pasta is just cooked and the soup has thickened to your liking.
- Season the soup to perfection, then serve it with a grating of Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. A sprinkling of fresh baby basil leaves will always be delicious, if you’ve got them, and my kids enjoy it with a dollop of pesto on top, too.
– Don’t waste any of your greens – remove those tougher stalks, finely chop and add them to the base of your soup with the onion, carrot and celery.
– This soup is great for using up odds and ends from your dried pasta packets. Pile whatever you’ve got in a clean tea towel, then give it a good bash so it’s all about the same size.
– When it comes to herbs, use what you’ve got. Rosemary or thyme leaves would be delicious here, or even a sprinkling of dried herbs.
– Add other veg when you’re frying the onions, if you’ve got it, like leek, courgette or potato.
– Use whatever stock you can get your hands on – of course a fresh broth would be delicious, but a humble stock cube will absolutely do the job.
– This is lovely finished with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese, but you could use Cheddar, or a dollop of pesto from a jar.
– Out of pasta? No problem, use rice instead or even hunks of bread, which will soak up all that lovely flavour.