It’s no secret that I’m a fan of cheap packet stuffing for all manner of culinary surprises – from a crispy coating for chicken nuggets (vegan or otherwise), to a topping for mac n cheese, to folding it into a bread dough for little herby surprises, the uses I have found for it over the years are so numerous that I constantly have a ready supply of it, decanted into a 1l airtight jar on the kitchen shelf, with instructions written on the side in black marker as to how many grams per ml of water to make up standard stuffing. I buy the cheap boxes half a dozen at a time and upend them, nestling the jar between the Salt and Turmeric, and with equal gravitas to both.

Its latest incarnation is as a thickener to soups and stews that need a little bit of a lift, like this one, rustled together from frozen veg, a couple of tins, and whatever was rolling around at the bottom of the fridge. You could add greens to this, if you have them, or pasta to make a more substantial meal that riffs somewhere between a minestrone and a ribollita, while being rather like neither at all.

Serves 4 from 42p each. (This post is not sponsored; I provide links to the ingredients that I use so you can see how I calculate my recipe costs, and I may earn a small commission if you click the links or purchase any ingredients.)

1 large onion (or 150g frozen onion), 13p

6 fat cloves of garlic, 10p

1 tbsp cooking oil, 3p

a pinch of salt and pepper, <1p

1 large carrot, 7p

1 x 400g tin of butter beans (or other white beans), 39p

500ml vegetable stock, 3p

400g chopped tomatoes, 28p

1 large courgette, 50p

1 tbsp lemon juice, 2p

1 tsp paprika, 2p

4 tbsp sage and onion stuffing crumbs, 10p


First peel and finely dice your onion, and toss it into a large, nonstick pan. If you’re using frozen onions, simply measure them in. I must admit to loving a frozen onion for the speed and simplicity of having them to hand, and am increasingly using them more and more these days. I’ve done the cost calculation and they work out ever so slightly more expensive than buying the cheapest fresh ones at the supermarket, but with no food waste from the skins and more convenience. Frozen onions work out at 0.18p per gram, whereas fresh work out at 0.09p per gram – but with frozen you only use what you need, and there is no waste from the skins and outer layer. And no tears, either. I’m not shilling for Big Onion here, just sharing something I think is helpful! Anyway, however you have your onions, pop them in the pan.


Peel your garlic and halve each clove lengthways, and toss them in too. Measure in the oil, and add a pinch of salt and pepper, and bring to a low heat to start to soften. Very finely dice the carrot and add to the pan, and give everything a good stir. Cook all together for five minutes, just to knock the ascerbic edge off the alliums.


Drain and thoroughly rinse the butter beans and tip into the pan, then cover with first the stock, and then the tinned tomatoes. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Measure in the lemon juice, paprika and herbs, and cook for 40 minutes until the veg and beans are super soft, and the liquid is reduced and thickened.


Finely slice the courgette so the slices are almost translucent; they will disappear into the soup in a rather pleasing manner. Add to the pan, along with the stuffing, and cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to combine.


Season with a little extra salt and pepper to taste, and serve warm.



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All text copyright Jack Monroe.

My new book, Tin Can Cook, is available to preorder now.
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Click here for A Girl Called Jack and here for A Year in 120 Recipes.

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