THE BASIC MINESTRONE
1 tbs olive oil 150g rindless bacon rashers, finely chopped 1 onion, finely chopped 2 carrots, peeled, coarsely chopped 2 celery sticks, coarsely chopped 3 garlic cloves, crushed 2 x 400g cans diced tomatoes 1L (4 cups) chicken stock 2 bay leaves 160g short pasta (we used dried elbow pasta) 400g can borlotti beans, drained, rinsed 100g of whatever vegetables you have in your crisper drawer (we used baby spinach leaves) Chopped flat- leaf parsley, shredded parmesan, manchego or pecorino to serve Heat the oil in a large heavy- based saucepan over medium heat. Cook the bacon and onion, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until the onion softens slightly. Add the carrot and celery. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or until aromatic. Stir in the tomato, stock, 1 cup (250ml) water and bay leaves. Cover and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Stir in the pasta and beans, and cook for 10 minutes. Add the spinach (or other veg) and cook, for a further 2 minutes or until pasta is al dente and spinach has wilted. Season with pepper. Ladle among serving bowls. Sprinkle with parsley and parmesan (or other cheese) to serve.