This is a great wintry soup, with a generous chilli hit. Great for a cozy night in, when you just can't be buggered with a roast. You can throw some mushrooms (with the tomatoes) and spinach (at the last minute) in as well, for some extra nutrients - whatever floats your boat.
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 500g good-quality Italian sausages, squeezed from casings into little meatballs
- 2 large leeks, trimmed, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 fennel bulb, chopped
- 2 teaspoons thyme leaves
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 4 vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
- 1.5 litres chicken stock (plus 1/2 cup water)
- 250g small dried orecchiette
- 400g tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- handful flat-leaf parsley, to serve
- Heat half the oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add the sausage pieces and cook for 3-4 minutes, until golden. Remove and drain on paper towel.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the remaining oil to the pan and cook the leek and fennel, stirring occasionally, for 6-7 minutes, or until softened. Add the thyme, garlic, chilli, fennel seeds and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Add the tomato and stir for another minute.
- Add the stock and bring to the boil. Add the orecchiette and sausages and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes, or until the pasta is just tender. Add the cannellini beans and cook for a further minute. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve sprinkled with parsley.