This is traditionally a hearty ‘tomato-ey’ Italian soup which generally contains pasta, beans, potato and pesto plus whatever other left over veggies are to hand.  “Peasant food” at its best!  This is a great way to use up odds and ends in the fridge, kids generally love it as it’s got pasta in it and it’s good and filling.  Served with some good wholemeal bread this is a wonderfully substantial meal that requires little preparation and not much involvement once it’s on the hob.


Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6+
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 celery sticks, diced
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can cannellini beans / similar
  • 1.5 L vegetable stock
  • 375 g potatoes, diced
  • 140 g small pasta shapes, preferably wholegrain
  • 150g frozen peas
  • 180 g French beans, cut into small lengths (or other veg)
  • 1 small red capsicum (or other veg)
  • 150g broccoli florets (or other veg)
  • Handful baby spinach.
  • 2-3 tablespoons homemade basil pesto *
  • Fresh parsley
  1. Heat a large saucepan or stovetop casserole with a tight fitting lid and sauté the onions and garlic until softened.
  2. Add carrots, celery, tomato paste, tomatoes, cannellini beans, vegetable stock, potatoes, and pasta, bring to boil, place on the lid and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add peas, green beans, broccoli, capsicum or other chosen veg and simmer, covered for a further 10 minutes or until they are cooked to your liking.
  4. Adjust liquid if necessary, add more water if necessary. Stir in the baby spinach, pesto, and serve sprinkled with the freshly chopped parsley.
  5. Like most soups / stews, this is even nicer the next day, or prepared early in the day and allowed to sit out unrefrigerated all day.
  6. * I do use a little olive oil when I make my own cheese-free pesto (but nowhere near as much as I used to!) and this pesto just an ingredient in a large pot of soup which feeds 6 people easily. So probably only adds 10-20 g of oil to the whole pot, which when divided is less than 5g per serving. If you want to make with no added oil whatsoever, just finely chop a large handful of basil and stir in at the end.