grated Italian cheese to serve (I used Grana Padano)
Heat the oil in a large saucepan, cast iron is best, and add the chopped bacon, saute over a medium heat until the bacon is crisp and cooked.
Add the garlic and saute for a further minute, stirring all the time. Add the soup mix vegetables*, putting the packet of pearl barley to one side. Saute, stirring all the time for 2 to 3 minutes. The add the tomato puree and stir to mix into the vegetable and bacon mixture.
*Use 500g mixed chopped carrots, swede, onions and leeks if not using a soup mix.
Add the tin of chopped tomatoes, vegetable stock and the wine, stir well before adding the macaroni pasta, packet of pearl barley*, chopped cabbage and the fresh thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper and place a lid on the saucepan and simmer over a low heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until the pasta and vegetables are soft and are cooked.
*Use 1 tablespoon of pearl barley if not using a soup mix.
Adjust seasoning to taste and serve straight away with grated Italian cheese sprinkled over the top of the soup and crusty bread.
NB: Make it vegetarian and Vegan by omitting the bacon and adding mushrooms and/or chopped peppers.