This soup is as close to a chicken soup as any vegetarian or vegan one could possibly come, in my humble opinion, and it is made with some surprising ingredients! The star of the show is the stock; a must for the base of any good soup recipe. I used Osem chicken stock, which I got from my local Tesco Express – sources tell me they are 2 for a fiver there are the moment, for seriously large tubs of the stuff, so if you like the sound of it, now would be a good time to stock up! I originally wanted to make this soup with butter beans, for Mrs J, who requested them, but I left the pan unattended this morning and burned them to a smoky pungent crisp, so found myself rummaging in the cupboard looking for a replacement. Behold, the baked bean, thoroughly rinsed of all its sticky orange sauce, and a worthy, and impossible-to-detect, substitute. And half the price, too. I added freshly picked chard from my garden (I keep meaning to write about that, because it is very simple to grow and almost impossible to kill) but have costed it as supermarket greens, because I just don’t have enough to feed all of you at once!

Serves two very generously, from 28p. 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. All prices correct at the time of printing and are subject to change.

400g tin of baked beans, 23p

2 tsp Osem ‘chicken’ stock, or ordinary chicken stock, 8p (£3.15/400g)

1 large carrot, 4p (43p/1kg)

1 large onion, 5p (54p/1kg)

6 fat cloves of garlic, 7p (69p/4 bulbs)

a few handfuls of greens, 5p (49p/206g)

black pepper, <1p (43p/20g)

a dash of lemon juice, 55p (60p/250ml)

First thoroughly rinse your baked beans in a colander or sieve, to get rid of all of the sticky tomato sauce. They won’t get completely clean, but any lingering sweetness will be absorbed into the soup as it cooks. Pop them into a medium saucepan.

Pour over 600ml cold water, and add 2 tsp of the stock, and bring to a gentle simmer.

Finely slice your carrot – I don’t bother to peel mine – and peel and slice your onion, and toss into the pan. Peel the garlic cloves and add those too. (You can, of course, use tinned carrots, frozen onions and lazy garlic paste, for a far simpler endeavour).

Season generously with black pepper, and cook for 30 minutes on a gentle simmer.

The soup may thicken as it cooks; as the beans break down they will start to thicken the stock and make it deliciously creamy, so keep your eye on it and add a splash of water if required.

To serve, toss in the greens two minutes before serving, and finish with a splash of lemon juice. The stock is plenty sufficient in salt, so it won’t need any more of that, but a dash more black pepper to taste makes it extra warming and delicious.

All text and photography copyright Jack Monroe.

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