This low-calorie, vitamin-rich vegetable soup makes a delicious and filling lunch or dinner. Use the best canned tomatoes you can find, and top with a dollop of pesto for great flavour.
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 leeks, halved and thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, halved, cored and thinly sliced
1 can of whole tomatoes
2 bay leaves
Handful spinach or kale leaves
6 cups water
Leftover parmesan rinds
2 Tablespoons pesto
1. Heat a little olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, leeks and fennel and cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the can of tomato, bay leaves and spinach or kale leaves, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the water and the parmesan rinds and bring to a simmer. Cover partially and cook over moderately low heat until the vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes.
2. Discard the rinds and bay leaves. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls, add a dollop of pesto and serve.
Hint: Use this vegetable soup as a base to add other ingredients like cooked beans or lentils.
Collect and freeze parmesan rinds when you finish grating cheese, then add to soups and casseroles to infuse the dish with savoury flavour.