Tuscan Bean Soup


This easy bean soup is just the thing to serve up in a big bowl in the middle of the table for the family to help themselves.

  • 2 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 1 celery stick
  • 1 large potato
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of fennel seed
  • Half a teaspoon of chilli flakes
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can cannellini beans
  • 100g greens (kale, spring greens, spinach)
  • A large bread roll
  • 25g vegetarian parmesan
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Finely chop the carrot, onion and celery.
  2. Heat a tablespoon of oil in an oven proof pan, add the vegetables and soften for about ten minutes.
  3. Peel and wash the potato and roughly chop. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Take the leaves from two fresh thyme stalks. Discard the stalk.
  4. Add the potato, garlic, thyme leaves, fennel seed and chilli to the pan.
  5. Add the tomatoes, and beans (including the liquid from the can) and a can of water.
  6. Bring the pot to a simmer and cook until the veg is soft and the sauce reduced down.
  7. Heat the oven to 220c.
  8. Tear the bread into bite sized chunks and scatter over the top of the soup.
  9. Scatter over the cheese.
  10. Put the pot in the oven and baked until the bread and cheese have turned golden.
  11. Serve. Delicious with pesto.

Tuscan Bean Soup

Using Leftovers

It’s that time of the week again when the fridge is starting to look a bit bare and the little pots of leftovers are taking over the middle shelf. A few boiled potatoes here, a cooked chicken breast there, some soup, half a bag of leaves (spinach or similar, NOT leaves from the garden), maybe a bit of cream or a dribble of wine in the bottom the bottle. I often find myself looking blankly at this collection of bits and bobs wondering what the hell I can make out of them to tingle my taste buds.

At the weekend I made a delicious gnocchi (Italian potato dumplings) in a creamy sauce served with watercress and homemade pesto. The gnocci and pesto were long gone but there were some leeks, and marscapone cheese left from the sauce. Combined with a handful of watercress, some garlic leaves, a sliced cooked chicken breast and some new potatoes from last nights dinner they made a very quick, tasty dinner.

Simply slice and sweat the leek for a a few moments to soften (add some water if they look like they are browning, you don’t want them brown) before adding the watercress and garlic leaves. Add a splash of wine if you have some and about a tablespoon of marscapone cheese. Add the sliced chicken and season with salt and pepper. Serve with new potatoes.

For a vegetarian option you could leave out the chicken, add more greens and brocolli, and maybe even a sprinkle of toasted nuts.