Rachel Allen shares her recipe for bacon and bean broth. It’s as comforting as it is nutritious and the sugar really brings out the flavour of the tomatoes.

Serves 4, preparation time 1 hour 20 minutes + 6 hours soaking time


225g dried haricot or cannellini beans
½ onion
1 bay leaf
1 carrot
200g bacon, cut into lardons about 1x2cm
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper
225g curly kale, stalks removed and thinly sliced
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley


Soak the beans in plenty of cold water for about 6 hours or overnight, then drain, and place in a large pan with the bay leaf, onion and carrot. Cover with fresh cold water and place on a medium heat. Bring to a simmer and continue to simmer for 45 to 60 minutes (it may take longer) or until tender, they should easily squash against the pan if pressed with a spoon.

Meanwhile, add the olive oil to a large casserole dish and place on a medium high heat. Add the bacon and cook for a few minutes until golden. Next add the garlic, cook, stirring continuously for a minute or so until golden, then add the tomatoes, stock, sugar, salt and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.

Drain the beans and discard the carrot, onion and bay leaf. Add the cooked beans to the stew along with the cabbage and cook for a further 4 minutes until the cabbage is cooked. Stir in the herbs then taste for seasoning and serve.