Herb paste is available in the refrigerated vegetable section of major supermarkets. Bean mix can be replaced with chickpeas or kidney beans. Soup can be made up to four days ahead. Keep, covered, in the fridge.
2 tblsps olive oil
2 leeks, trimmed, washed, sliced (white part only)
100g sliced pancetta, finely chopped
2 tblsps tomato paste
1 tblsp Italian herbs stir-in paste
2 litres (8 cups) chicken stock
500g Desiree potatoes, peeled, cut into
1 1⁄2cm pieces
410g can crushed tomatoes
400g can four bean mix, drained, rinsed
1 medium zucchini (200g), trimmed, coarsely shredded
Cracked black pepper, to taste
OLIVE, GARLIC AND CHEESE BREAD
520g loaf kalamata olive sourdough
75g butter, chopped, at, room temperature
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 1⁄2 cups grated pizza cheese
Heat oil in a stockpot over a medium to high heat. Add the leeks and pancetta. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until soft. Stir in pastes.
2 Add chicken stock, potatoes, tomatoes and bean mix. Bring to a boil. Gently boil, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Stir in the zucchini. Gently boil for a further 2 minutes. Season with pepper and remove from the heat.
3 Meanwhile, to make bread, cut crossways into 1 1⁄2cm-thick slices, about three-quarters of the way through. Spread combined butter and garlic over cut-sides. Push cheese in between slices. Place on oven tray lined with baking paper.
4 Cook in a moderate oven (180C) for about 20 minutes, or until bread is crisp.
5 Serve minestrone with bread.