The perfect lunch. This substantial soup is often thought of as a great winter dish but, although I agree, I also find it magnificent in the spring and summer when fresh greens come into season. It serves as a great way to use up any leftover veggies but they should still be relatively fresh to bring out the best flavour. The two most important things here are; the stock (homemade chicken stock is best) and the bacon/pancetta. The stock and bacon form the basis of the taste of this dish so use the best you can afford. I used homemade chicken stock and home cured free-range bacon but any good quality streaky bacon or pancetta would be ok. If you are making this to do for a couple of days be aware that the pasta may soak up the stock over time so you may have to add more (water is fine) while reheating. Feel free to add whatever vegetables you have lying around, almost anything will work.
3 tbsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
100g Streaky Bacon (chopped)
1 Onion (finely chopped)
2 cloves of Garlic (finely sliced)
3 stalks of Celery (chopped)
2 Tomatoes (chopped)
1 large Carrot (chopped)
150g Sugar Snap Peas (chopped)
1 tbsp Pesto
1.25 L of Chicken Stock
1 tin of Butter Beans
100g Pasta (small shells or tubes are best, broken spaghetti is also fine)
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
Parmesan Cheese to serve
1. Heat the oil over a medium heat and add the bacon, onion and garlic. Season well and cook for 7-10 minutes. Add the celery, tomato, carrot, peas and pesto and stir well to coat everything. Pour in the stock, bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes.
2. Add the beans and pasta and cook for a further ten minutes. Check the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if necessary. Pour into bowls and grate over copious amounts of Parmesan cheese. Serve with good, crusty bread.