Vegetable and white bean soup

This is quite simply a big ‘feel-good hug in a bowl’ and perfect for a wintery Sunday night curled up in front of the television, watching your favourite movie. It’s cram-packed with lots of healthy vegetables and the white beans, which are puréed, add a lovely silky-smooth texture. If you are Vegetarian, then the pancetta can easily be dropped from the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 80 g ( oz) pancetta, finely chopped
  • 2 brown onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped sage
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and grated
  • 1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cups) vegetable stock
  • 400 g (14 oz/1 bunch) cavolo nero, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 zucchini (courgettes), diced
  • 400 g (14 oz) tinned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 70 g ( oz/ cup) finely grated parmesan cheese

Method

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring to prevent the pancetta from catching on the bottom of the pan.

Add the onion, garlic and sage and cook for a further 3 minutes, or until the onion is light golden. Add the carrot, parsnip, celery and bay leaf. Stir for a few minutes to allow the vegetables to gently cook, then add the stock, cavolo nero and zucchini. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently.

Meanwhile, put the cannellini beans in a food processor or blender and process to a purée. Add the purée to the soup and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes.

Ladle into four warmed soup bowls. Top with the parmesan and serve with warm bread.