Begin by making a soffritto. Place a large, heavy-bottomed pan over a medium-low heat with a good glug of olive oil. Once heated, add the diced onion, celery, fennel, and garlic and cover with a lid – do not add salt at this point as beans tend not to cook well with it. Gently sweat the soffritto until soft, translucent and sweet (about 15–20 minutes), stirring regularly to prevent browning


Once the soffritto is ready, add the beans, wine and bay leaves, then cook uncovered for a couple of minutes before adding the stock and vinegar. Simmer for 35–45 minutes but don’t let it boil too rapidly – a gentle braise will yield a better bean. Check the beans occasionally; you don’t want a mushy, collapsing bean but also al dente beans are not the one. Tender yet retaining their shape and integrity is the holy grail for bean cookery!

  • 200g of fresh coco beans, or any other white bean, podded weight
  • 250ml of white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2l vegetable stock, fresh
  • 1 tbsp of moscatel vinegar, or white wine vinegar


In the meantime, make the basil oil. Remove the thick ends of the stalks from the basil and discard. Blanch the basil leaves very quickly (about 20 seconds) in salted boiling water, then quickly plunge into iced water. Drain then squeeze out any excess water and place in a blender with the olive oil and blitz until you have a dark green, fragrant oil

  • 1 bunch of basil
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil


Once cooked, give the whole thing a good old season with salt and more vinegar if it needs it. It is important to state here that, as we are making a broth, the bean to stock ratio needs to be heavily weighted towards the stock. If it’s looking a little dry then just top it up with any remaining stock you have or failing that, a little bit of water


Finely slice the courgettes to about the width of a 50p coin. Strip the chard leaves from their stalks, chop the stalks to about 1cm thick and the leaves quite roughly


To bring the dish together, return the beans to the heat and bring to a simmer, add the chard and courgettes and simmer for 2–3 minutes. Once the vegetables are cooked, take off the heat and stir through a tablespoon of the basil oil (any leftover can be kept in the fridge to liven up another dish). You could also just tear up fresh basil leaves to stir through instead of making the oil if you’d prefer


Check the seasoning and serve warm