Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Italian inspired bean and bacon soup

The fresh herbs will infuse their aromas and flavours through this nourishing and warming soupy-stew
This is a meal in a bowl. No fuss, no second and third courses. Just fill up your bowl and lose yourself in a warm cuddlesome soupy hug. If you don't intend to serve up for 4 people, you can refridgerate and have the next day for lunch or dinner.Just be sure you either warm on the hob until gently steaming but not quite boiling, or that you microwave in 2 stages (about 1min 30s, then stir, then another 1min 30s for a single large bowl in an 800W microwave, and stir again) then double check it is piping hot.

Serves 4 as a main course


150g dried mixed beans (I used pinto and borlotti beans) soaked overnight, drained, and rinsed.
2 onions, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
5 garlic cloves, very finely diced
125g smoked streaky lardons/cubetti de pancetta
400g tinned chopped plum tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 litre chicken stock
125-140g small pasta (I used farfallini)
5 tbsp parmesan, finely grated
4 tbsp finely chopped parsley
2 sprigs rosemary
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
2 fresh bay leaves
5 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. First you need to cook the beans, they need to be boiled for 1 hour. I add a couple of bay leaves and unpeeled garlic cloves in the hope of infusing some flavour. Once cooked, drain and rinse off the mucky water, discarding the bay and garlic.
  1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan (I used the largest one I have). Add the onion and fry without browning for 7-10 mins (until beginning to get soft).
  1. Now add the rosemary sprigs, chopped thyme, bay leaves and garlic and fry for 2 minutes.
  1. Once all the herby garlicky oniony flavours have seeped into the oil, it is time for adding the carrots and celery. Fry gently, without browning for another 7-10 minutes.

  1. Add the lardons and fry for 5 minutes. Remove the rosemary sprigs or they will disintegrate into soggy brown leaves (unattractive!).

  1. Add the tomato puree and mix thoroughly before adding the chopped tinned tomatoes and mixing again. Increase the heat to a lightly bubbling simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
Early into the simmering process

Nearer to half an hour later
  1. Now is the time for adding in your cooked beans and stock. Simmer for 5 minutes.

  1. To add smoothness to the finished soup, using a mug, remove a mugful of the mixture and liquidise. Once pureed, put back into the saucepan and mix thoroughly. Season.

  1. Add your pasta and turn up the heat. The pasta I used cooks in 4 minutes until al dente – if using something different, follow your pack instructions. Turn off the hob.

  1. Now add half your parmesan and all of the chopped parsley. 
  2. Serve in bowls and top with the remaining parmesan. If you wish, add a little decorative glug of olive oil as an additional topping.


    1. Ooooh, now this really is my kind of food. Sounds absolutely glorious - and I can even keep some aside before I add the pasta, for myself. (I'm not allowed carbs on my diet at the moment). I'm definitely going to have to give this a go!

    2. Dear Jenny,

      Thanks so much! I am still new to this blogging lark, and to writing my own recipes, so it means a lot to receive such a positive comment.

      I hope you like the soup when you make it, and it will still taste great without the pasta! I sadly am something of a pasta addict. Let me know how it comes out.

      Very best wishes