Everyone loves a good minestrone and this is nothing like the stuff you buy in cans. It looks like quite a lot of ingredients we know, but you don’t have to include them all and there’s nothing difficult to do. Chuck in any Parmesan rinds you have hanging about, as they add bags of flavour. We never throw them out – just store them in a bag in the freezer until needed. If you want a lighter soup, use white wine instead of red and fewer veg.


Photographer: Andrew Hayes-Watkins


Prep time
20 minutes
Cooking time
25 minutes
277 per serving


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g streaky bacon, cut into thin strips
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 200g celeriac, diced
  • 2 celery sticks, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 150ml red wine
  • 1.2 litres chicken stock
  • 1 Parmesan rind (optional)
  • 1 ham bone (optional)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 400g can cannellini or borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
  • 50g spaghetti, broken into pieces
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped
  • 2 leeks, cut into rounds
  • ¼ green cabbage (Savoy, green pointed) or a bunch of cavolo nero or chard, shredded
  • 1 large courgette, sliced
  • 4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling
  • a few basil leaves, to garnish
  • flaked sea salt (optional)
  • freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the bacon and fry it over a medium heat until it’s well browned and has given off plenty of fat, then add the onion, carrots, celeriac and celery. Turn down the heat and gently cook the veg for a few minutes, just until they take on some colour, then add the garlic and cook for a further minute.

  2. Pour in the red wine and allow it to bubble furiously, stirring continuously to make sure you’ve scraped all the sticky bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken stock and the Parmesan rind and ham bone, if using, then sprinkle in the herbs. Bring the liquid to the boil, then turn down the heat and cook for 5 minutes.

  3. Add the beans, spaghetti and tomato and cook for a further 5 minutes.

  4. Taste for seasoning – the soup may be very salty from the bacon and ham bone, but add salt if necessary as well as plenty of black pepper. Add the green vegetables and simmer gently until they and the spaghetti are tender. Remove the ham bone, rosemary sprig and Parmesan rind from the soup and serve sprinkled with grated Parmesan and some basil leaves.