What could be more satisfying than dunking crispy, warm garlic bread into a steaming bowl of hearty vegetable soup? The swirl of basil oil to finish is an optional but delicious addition. Use the leftovers on toasted ciabatta, fried gnocchi or to coat your favourite pasta shapes. I made this soup for a family dinner because it’s quick, easy and feeds a lot of people.


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 leek finely chopped
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves zested
  • 150 ml red wine
  • 3 small celery stalks and leaves stalks sliced
  • 2 carrots sliced
  • 6 medium kale leaves stalks removed, roughly torn
  • 1 L good quality vegetable stock
  • 2 vegetarian 'chicken' stock cubes
  • 5 400g cans crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup large pasta shells
  • 1 400g can cannellini beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 courgette sliced
  • 12 green beans trimmed, sliced into 1-inch lengths
  • 1 medium sized basil plant for the basil oil
  • 1 garlic clove for the basil oil
  • juice of half a lemon for the basil oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes for the basil oil
  • pinch sugar for the basil oil
  • olive oil for the basil oil


  1. 1 Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the leek and thyme, fry until softened. Add the garlic and red wine, cook off for five minutes. Add the celery, carrots, kale, vegetable stock, 'chicken' stock cubes and crushed tomatoes. Put the lid on, reduce to a simmer and cook until tender (about 15 minutes).
  2. 2 Add the pasta shells and simmer for another 5 minutes then add the cannellini beans, courgette and green beans. Cook to heat everything through for 1–2 minutes then switch of the heat to let it finish cooking with the residual heat. Ideally, you'd let the soup sit for a few hours before eating. Swirl basil oil through the individual portions and serve with crusty ciabatta stuffed with herbs and garlic.
  3. 3 To make the basil oil, place a full basil plant (stalks and all) the garlic clove, salt and lemon juice in a blender. Slowly drizzle in enough olive oil to make a runny sauce as you blend. Taste and adjust seasoning to suit your preference.