1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
2 smoked streaky bacon rashers, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 tomatoes, skinned and chopped
2 celery sticks, diced
2 small courgettes, diced
3 teaspoons pesto, plus extra to serve
1.2 litres (2 pints) chicken or vegetable stock
75 g (3 oz) purple sprouting broccoli, stems and florets cut into small pieces
40 g (1½ oz) tiny dried soup pasta
salt and pepper
freshly grated Parmesan cheese.


1.Preheat the slow cooker if necessary. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the onion, carrot and bacon and fry, stirring, until lightly browned.
2.Add the garlic, then stir in the tomatoes, celery and courgettes and cook for 1-2 minutes.
3.Stur in the pesto and stock, then add a little salt and pepper and bring to the boil, surring.
4.Pour into the slow cooker pot, cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until the vegetables are tender.
5. Add the broccoli and pasta, replace the lid and cook on high for 15-30 minutes or until the pasta is tender.
6.Stir well, taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed, then ladle the soup into bowls.
7.Top with extra spoonfuls of pesto, to taste, and sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Serve with crusty bread, if liked.
8.FOR CURRIED VEGETABLE & CHICKEN SOUP, omit the bacon and add the diced meat from 2 chicken thighs when frying the onion and carrot.
9.Add the garlic, tomatoes, celery and courgettes, then add 3 teaspoons mild curry paste instead of the pesto and 40 g (1½ oz) basmati rice.
10.Add 1.2 litres (2 pints) chicken stock and continue as above, omitting the pasta. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve with warmed naan breads.

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