Leiths How to Cook
Peter Cassidy

If using dried beans, you will need to allow plenty of time to soak them.


Quantity Ingredient
85g dried haricot beans, (or use tinned; see note)
2 rashers smoked streaky bacon, (or 50 g piece of pancetta)
1 onion
1 carrot
1 potato
1 celery stick
100 g piece white cabbage
3 tomatoes
50g fine green beans
1 garlic clove
3 tablespoons olive oil
1.2 litres Vegetable stock
or 1.2 litres Chicken and veal stock
100ml white wine
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon tomato puree
small bunch flat-leaf parsley
50g dried spaghetti
freshly ground black pepper
parmesan cheese, to serve


  1. Soak the dried beans in cold water for at least 3 hours, but ideally overnight.
  2. Derind and dice the bacon. Halve, peel and finely slice the onion. Peel and dice the carrot and potato. De-string and dice the celery. Remove and discard the tough core from the cabbage, then shred. Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 10 seconds, refresh in cold water and drain, then peel, quarter, deseed and chop. Top and tail the green beans and cut into 1 cm lengths. Peel and crush the garlic.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a low heat. Add the bacon, let the fat render a little, then add the onion, carrot and celery and cook for 2 minutes. Add the potato and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Drain the soaked beans and add to the saucepan with the stock, wine, bay leaf, tomato purée and a few parsley stalks. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 1 hour. Discard the bay leaf and parsley stalks.
  5. Break the spaghetti into short lengths and add to the saucepan. Cook for a further 5 minutes, then add the cabbage, green beans and tomatoes and simmer gently until the spaghetti is cooked.
  6. Roughly chop enough parsley leaves to give you 1 tablespoon. Season the soup well with salt and pepper and stir in the parsley. Pour into bowls, grate a little Parmesan over each portion and serve.


  • To save time, you can use a 400 g tin haricot beans, drained and rinsed. Simmer the soup base without the beans (in step 4) for just 15 minutes. Add the beans and return to a simmer before adding the spaghetti (in step 5).


  • If preferred, keep the bacon in one piece; remove at the end of step 4 and discard. For a meat-free version, use vegetable stock and add an end piece of Parmesan (with rind) for extra flavour in place of the bacon; discard after simmering.
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