Bacon and Pasta Soup

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Simple soups make easy starters and quick lunches and that’s so true of this bacon and pasta soup. Use any small pasta – it’s a great soup for using that handful of leftover pasta in the bag. This also makes a quick and easy meal if you serve it with toasted bread and a green salad. It’s what our mothers would call a hearty soup. Use any kind of bacon or cured meat: we’ve used streaky bacon or pancetta but please try adding fried chorizo, cooked chopped ham or any strips of cured ham from Serrano to Parma.

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 streaky bacon rashers or pancetta, cut into strips
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 leek washed, tough green parts removed and sliced finely
1 carrot, cut in thin batons
1/2 red pepper, cut into thin strips (optional)
1 tin of cannellini or kidney beans (200g), drained and rinsed
500ml chicken or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon tomato purée or 4 tablespoons tomato sauce
10 leaves fresh basil
50g uncooked pasta, any small shapes
Grated Parmesan

Instructions

1. Fry the bacon in half the olive oil until crispy or fry the pancetta without oil. Reserve.

2. Cook the leeks and carrots until soft in a saucepan with the rest of the olive oil (for about ten minutes). If you are using pancetta use the rendered oil from the pan.

3. Add the beans, chicken stock, tomato purée, half the basil and pasta. Bring to the boil and cook over a medium heat until the pasta is cooked.

4. Add the rest of the basil, serve in bowls, sprinkle with grated Parmesan and top with the bacon or pancetta.

HOW LONG DOES THIS SOUP LAST?
This bacon and pasta soup keeps for 2 days in the fridge if you use fresh meat. If you use leftover ham for example it will last as long as the ham will, so if you use ham that is on its last day, then that’s as long as the soup will keep.

LEFTOVER PASTA TIP
When we have pasta left over in the box or bag we store it in a jar for soups. It doesn’t matter if you mix pasta types in this soup – use what you have – just make sure that the pasta you use needs the same cooking time (don’t use one pasta spiral that takes 6 minutes to cook and some broken spaghetti that takes 9 minutes). We snap long pasta into smaller pieces to fit in our leftover pasta jar!

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