Just a simple Friday night supper with The Major and Him What Knows in attendance. Since The Major might have been delayed, mains was a large pot of minestrone, biding its time on the hob, whilst we waited and devoured olives and schinkenspeck. The latter is as tasty as Parma ham, and about half the price.

I sweated 150g pancetta until crunchy and rendered; about fifteen minutes. Added 400g diced aromatics (onions and carrots), a knob of butter, salt and pepper, and then continued to sweat until the veg were soft and starting to caramelise. Another half hour – I wasn’t timing as I was doing the washing up. One 450g tin of chopped tomatoes, an equal amount of water, and a 450g tin of cannellini beans were added, the whole lot brought to the boil and then reduced to a simmer. A teaspoon of dried oregano and a bay leaf dropped in.

Secret ingredient time! Right now, you can get baby white cabbages in the shops, only slightly larger than your fist, which are full of flavour, and none of the unpleasant side effects of their larger brethren. I took one of these, only around 400g, peeled off the outer couple of leaves, and then sliced into segments, with a bit of stalk attached to each to hold the leaves together. Soup topped up with a bit of hot water from the kettle as it was getting gluggy, and the cabbage dropped gently on top. Another hour’s simmering, and a handful of cooked macaroni tossed in before serving with plenty of bread and grana.


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