Pasta Bean Soup


Words and Recipe by Ella Blackwell

Its Autumn,  bring on the hearty soups!

As the temperature changes, and the leaves turn a beautiful array of colours, I start hankering after hearty, warming soup. Perfect for a weekend lunch with friends, a break with bread, or a filling after-school supper.

An all round family favourite is Pasta Bean Soup aka Pasta Fagioli. There are a fair amount of simple ingredients involved however its an easy recipe and can be adorned with various toppings such as pesto, Parmesan, chilli flakes, sour cream, olive oil...the list goes on.

The base of onion, garlic, celery, carrot and leek is the same I use for all soups whether smooth or chunky.



Serves 6-8 depending on appetite

2 tbs Olive Oil

1 Onion

5 Garlic Cloves

1 tsp each of Oregano & Thyme (dried or fresh)

1 tbs Tamari

1 Leek

3 Sticks Celery

1 Lg Carrot

2 Bay Leaves

Blk Pepper

2 Tins Beans (I used 1 kidney 1 Borlotti)

1 Tin (Whole) Toms

1 Pt Water

1 Stock Cube

150g Pasta (shells or similar)


- Finely chop the onion, garlic, celery, leek and dice the carrot. 

-In a large heavy bottomed pan heat the olive oil add the onion and garlic, herbs and tamari, cook for 5 mins on a low heat. 

-Add the leek, celery, carrots, bay leaves and a generous grind of black pepper. Put on the lid and cook for 15 mins. Stir and make sure its sweating but not sticking.

-Chop the whole tomatoes whilst in the tin with scissors, then add the tomatoes and drained beans into the soup mix. Stir with a wooden spoon.

-Dissolve the stock cube in boiling water and pour into the pan. Simmer with lid on for 20 mins.

- If you're not eating immediately turn the heat off and let sit for a few hours.  You can even let it cool and put in the fridge at this point until the next day; the flavours will intensify.

-Add the pasta (to the simmering mix) and cook until the pasta is slightly al dente. You may need to add a little boiling water if its too dry, you want it thick and stew-like with some liquid.

-Serve in Bowls with Bread (see below) home-made pesto (see the recipe here), black pepper, basil leaves, chilli flakes and Parmesan (dairy or vegan). 

Bread Rolls

When I make bread it’s a little slapdash, no serious technique, and not much kneading. For some reason it works, very moreish, if a little hearty!

Tip: place an open tray of water in the bottom of your oven whilst the rolls are baking. 


Makes 8

500g Flour (I use 200g organic white spelt, 200g organic brown spelt, 100g rye)

2 tbs Olive Oil

1 tsp Sugar or Honey

1 tsp Salt

1 tsp dried yeast

Large handful of sunflower seeds


-Put all the ingredients in a large open bowl, add about 3/4 pint of room temperature water.

-Mix together to form a dough, I sometimes use a spoon if I cant be bothered to get my hands covered. Of course the kids get stuck in with their hands.

-The dough should be pretty sticky. Make into a rough ball, cover with a tea towel and leave for at least half an hour.

-Add a tray of water to the base of your oven and heat to 200*

-Using a fair amount of extra flour; knead the dough into 8 balls. Place them, evenly spaced, on a well oiled and floured tray.  Add a few seeds on-top if you wish.

-Bake for about 20 mins, check the rolls are ready by tapping the bottoms for a nice hollow sound. 

Eat fresh out the oven.

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Ella lives in Sussex with her husband and two young kids. After 10 years as a fashion designer she changed her lifestyle to bring up the children. She has a small start-up company with a friend selling children’s Teepees. Currently they’re building a house from scratch, grand designs style. Being a creative person; producing healthy family meals is simply an extension of this. There are, of course some creative culinary disasters along the way...