yields six servings
1/4 cup olive oil
2 brown onions, halved, coarsely chopped
4 rindless bacon rashers, thinly sliced crossways
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 medium carrots, peeled, cut into 1cm pieces
3 celery sticks, trimmed, cut into 1cm pieces
6 cups vegetable stock
1 x 400 gram can Italian diced tomatoes
1/3 cup tomato paste
Pinch of sugar
400 grams fresh borlotti beans, shelled
3/4 cup pasta curls
3 slices sourdough bread
1/3 cup finely shredded parmesan
1/3 cup loosely packed coarsely chopped fresh continental parsley
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bacon and garlic and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the onion softens.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Add carrot and celery to the onion mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in the stock, tomato, tomato paste and sugar and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
Add the borlotti beans and pasta and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 12 minutes or until pasta is al dente and the beans are tender.
Meanwhile, use a serrated knife to remove crusts from bread. Cut bread into 2cm cubes. Place in a roasting pan and drizzle with remaining oil. Add the parmesan and gently toss to combine. Cook in preheated oven for 5 minutes or until brown. Remove from oven.
Stir the parsley into the soup. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup among serving bowls and top with the croutons. Serve immediately.
bacon recipe courtesy of: Amanda Kelly, Australian Good Taste, July 2003