This staple Italian favourite is a hearty vegetable soup which is enriched with pasta, grains or beans. It is quick to prepare and perfect for using up gluts of vegetables and leftover pasta or beans. The vegetables used in this recipe are only a guide. Don’t be afraid to improvise, using the excess or leftover vegetables you have to hand, but as a guide, use something strong from the onion family, like onions or leeks, something rich and dense like potatoes or pumpkin and something green like peas, runner beans, kale or broccoli. I also save the hard rind of parmesan cheese which I cook in the soup to add flavour and richness. Don’t add the pasta to early as it goes to mush, and if cooking in bulk for the freezer, portion off the soup to store before adding the pasta.
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 3 carrots, washed and cubed
- 2 sticks of celery, washed and chopped
- 200g dried pasta shapes or 250g leftover pasta
- 1 cup frozen peas or precooked beans such as borlotti
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 bay leaf – fresh or dried
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 litre vegetable stock
- Salt, sugar and pepper
- Prepare all of the vegetables and heat the oil in a large soup pot. Fry the onion on a slow heat until coloured and soft. Add the carrots and celery and cook for a few minutes before adding the garlic and bay leaf. Cook on a medium heat, stirring often for a minute or two and then add the tomato puree’ and a pinch of sugar followed by all of the stock.
- Bring to a rolling boil and then turn the heat down, cover with a tight fitting lid and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the pasta and peas or beans and simmer for a further 10 – 15 minutes until the pasta is cooked. Remove the bay leaf, check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste and serve with grated parmesan.
You can add nutritional substance to this soup by adding pearl barley or puy lentils at the start of the cooking. Some tinned butterbeans included with the vegetables and a spoon of readymade pesto added before serving makes this soup even more hearty and delicious. For a spicier soup add 1 fresh chill (deseeded) and 1 tsp each of mustard seeds, cumin seeds and coriander seeds at the same time as you add the garlic.
Recipe by the Community Chef