Cheat’s Minestrone

I had to scratch around in my stores to find a can of haricot beans to make this makeshift version of minestrone. I doubt there is a definitive recipe although I think haricot and broken up pasta are defining ingredients in this chunky vegetable soup. I had carrots, potatoes, onion, garlic and bacon, using marjoram, thyme and chives for my herb input and tinned rather than fresh tomatoes. Grated Parmesan at the end and more chives really improved this wonderful bowlful, terrific with crusty or garlic bread and become a complete meal with sausage or leftover cooked chicken stirred in just before serving. It’s a recipe to play around with, depending on what your supplies allow.

Prep: 20 min

Cook: 30 min

1 onion

2 tbsp olive oil

2 garlic cloves

1 stick celery, preferably inner stalk

2 tbsp mix chopped marjoram, thyme and chives

2 rashers streaky bacon

1 carrot

1 potato

1 glass red or rose wine

100g/3 tbsp chopped tinned tomatoes

50g broken macaroni or spaghetti or small pasta

400g tin haricot beans

leftover cooked peas


Halve, peel and finely chop the onion and soften in 2 tbsp olive oil in a spacious, lidded pan over a medium-low heat. Now peel and chop the garlic, finely slice the celery and chop small (I do this because my chap doesn’t like celery but he doesn’t notice/mind it like this but thinly sliced is perfect), chop the bacon into small scraps. Stir garlic, celery and bacon into the softening onion with the herbs. Stir for a few minutes while you scrape the carrot and peel the potato. Dice both, rinse the potato. Add the wine to the onion mix and let it bubble up and reduce slightly. Add tomatoes, stir around then add the beans, potatoes and carrot. Re-fill the bean tin 4 times with water and add to the pan. Bring to the boil, establish a steady simmer and cook, semi-covered, for about 15 minutes until pasta and potatoes are tender. Add peas if using, check the seasoning with salt and black pepper.  Serve very hot with a shower of freshly grated Parmesan (if possible; still good without).