The Italians don’t just do pizza and pasta brilliantly, they also invented this comforting, wholesome soup. This version really is a meal in a bowl.



  • 175g piece round pancetta
  • 50ml olive oil
  • 1 leek, trimmed, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 (200g) sebago potato, peeled, finely chopped
  • 350g savoy cabbage, trimmed, cut into 1cm pieces
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1.5L chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 x 400g cans Italian chopped tomatoes
  • 175g ditali (see note) or other small soup pasta
  • 400g can borlotti beans, rinsed, drained
  • 2 tbs roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 12 basil leaves, torn
  • 200g parmesan, finely grated


  • Step 1 – Remove rind from pancetta in one piece and reserve, then chop pancetta into small pieces. Heat oil in a large saucepan over low–medium heat, then add pancetta, leek, garlic, carrots, celery, potato, cabbage and bay leaf. Cover with a lid and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Remove lid.
  • Step 2 -Add reserved pancetta rind, stock and tomatoes, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in pasta and beans, increase heat to medium and bring to a simmer. Cover, then reduce heat to low–medium and cook for a further 8 minutes or until pasta is al dente.
  • Step 3 – Remove and discard pancetta rind, then stir in parsley and basil. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Ladle soup into bowls, scatter over parmesan and serve immediately.

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