Quick isn’t the first word that comes to mind when I think of making soup. Or the second or even the third. I think of soup as a leisurely task that requires time in order to build real depth of flavour. As leisure and time are in short supply during the week, I typically reserve soup making for the weekend, when I’m not checking the clock every two seconds.

But some soups don’t need hours (or even an hour) and there’s nothing better on a cold and rainy weeknight. The key is to keep it simple and to have all the ingredients on hand. Luckily that’s easy: an onion, garlic, some celery and carrots, and something green like cavolo nero. If you’ve got homemade stock that’s great but water is fine too.

Simple vegetable soup (Serves 3-4)

This is a thick, hearty soup – perfect on a nasty winter’s day.


1 red onion
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic
2 stalks of celery
2 carrots, peeled
​100g cavolo nero or other greens
​1-400g tin of beans such as cannellini 
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Grated parmesan cheese to garnish (optional)


Heat a pan.

While it’s warming up, dice the onion. Add the tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, the diced onion, and cover. Cook over medium-low heat. You don’t want to brown the onion but sweat them gently. Stir occasionally. This is the longest part of the cooking and might take you 10 minutes.

While the onion is cooking, finely mince the garlic and dice the celery and carrots. You want to aim for the vegetables to be of generally uniform size. Once the onion is soft, add the garlic and cook for another minute. Then add the chopped celery and carrots. Stir and cook for a minute or two then just cover with water. Replace the lid. While the vegetables are cooking, rinse the cavolo nero and tear the leaves from the stalk. Rinse the beans under cold running water and drain. When the vegetables are just tender, add the cavolo nero and the beans.

Heat for a few minutes until the cavolo nero is wilted. Taste and adjust the seasoning – it will need some salt. 

Serve the soup in bowls with a healthy glug of extra virgin olive oil and grated parmesan cheese, if using.- Independent