This soup has a pile of ingredients in it but it is oh so worth every one!!! I got this recipe off jamie oliver’s website and have simplified it quite a lot otherwise you’d be there cooking all day : ) If you want to grow your own beans, and cook them for an extra half an hour, and add some more ingredients to the list, feel free to use his original recipe….or….for anyone with no time on their hands and the desire to create the perfect 1 pot meal here ya go….
1 400g tin cannellini beans
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 rashers smoked pancetta or bacon, preferably free-range or organic
2 small red onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 sticks of celery, trimmed and chopped
½ a head of fennel, chopped (if you can’t find fennel crush 1 tsp of fennel seeds…don’t leave it out!)
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
a small bunch of fresh basil, leaves and stalks separated
2 x 400g tins of good-quality plum tomatoes
a glass of red wine
2 small courgettes, quartered and sliced
200g baby spinach, washed and roughly sliced (including stalks)
565ml chicken, ham or vegetable stock, preferably organic
55g dried pasta (I used spelt pasta which is great if you want something wheat-free)
a block of Parmesan cheese, to serve
To make your soffrito, heat a good splash of olive oil in a saucepan and add the chopped pancetta or bacon, onions, carrots, celery, fennel, garlic and the finely sliced basil stalks. Sweat very slowly on a low heat, with the lid just ajar, for around 15 to 20 minutes until soft, but not brown. Add the tomatoes, courgettes and red wine and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
Now add the spinach, stock and beans. Put the dried pasta into a polythene bag, squeeze all the air out and tie the end up. Bash gently with a rolling pin to break the pasta into pieces. Snip the end off the bag and empty the contents into the soup. Stir and continue to simmer until the pasta is cooked.
If you think the soup is looking too thick, add a little more stock or some of the reserved cooking water to thin it down a bit. Then taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with the torn-up basil leaves and with some extra virgin olive oil drizzled over the top. Put a block of Parmesan and a grater on the table for everyone to help themselves. Heaven!