This Italian classic comes in countless renditions, but there are good reasons why it is so popular: easy to make; great as a starter or a main; hearty and filling, it will keep you warm through the colder months, or can be made lighter with seasonal vegetables.
Peel and chop the onion and carrots.
Dice the celery stick.
Peel and crush the garlic clove.
Quarter the plum tomatoes, remove the seeds. Finely dice the tomato flesh.
Remove the stalks from the cavolo nero, finely shred the leaves.
In a saucepan, heat the olive oil. Fry off the onions until they turn translucent.
Next, add the carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaf, thyme sprigs, and a pinch of salt, and sweat out for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, drain and rinse the tinned bean. When the vegetable are soft, add the beans and shreded kale to the saucepan, and cover with water.
Leave to simmer for at least 15 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes and pasta shells, leave simmer a further 8-10 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf and thyme stalks.
Adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Pick the leaves off the parsley stalks.
Peel 1 clove of garlic.
Place in the jug of a blender along with the olive oil and a pinch of salt. Blitz until smooth.
Ladle out the soup into warmed bowls, and drizzle with the pesto.
«If you are making large batches of soup for future use, cook the pasta separately and add just before serving to avoid it getting overcooked.»