In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the onions, garlic, celery and carrot until the onion is soft.
Stir in bay leaf, parsley, chicken stock, water, tomatoes, thyme, cabbage, potato and beans. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat oven to 180 C / Gas mark 4. In a 4 litre casserole, place 1/3 of the mixture over the bottom. Layer 3 of the stale pieces of bread over the top. Place another 1/3 of the soup mixture over the bread followed by remaining 3 slices of bread. Top with remaining 1/3 of soup.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake for 30 minutes, or until soup is bubbling and cheese is light golden.
I have now made this soup multiple times with a little extra pepper and have received rave reviews. I have left out the bread when serving it as part of a meal as it is a very hearty soup that otherwise can be used as a meal in and of itself. Either way, it's fantastic! - 24 Jul 2008
Used different ingredients.
This was tasty and fairly simple, a great family meal. Nutritous, yummy and inexpensive to make. Made six very hearty servings with leftovers. I changed the recipe slightly: omitted the celery and fresh parsley (didn't have it), used half small head of cabbage, two chopped carrots and added three spicy Italian sausages which I browned with the onions. - 24 Jul 2008
This recipe made a yummy soup! However, the estimated prep time of 30 min for me was a little short - it took me closer to an hour. Maybe I will be more efficient and faster next time. Also, the soup is very thick and I might add some more chicken stock next time. - 24 Jul 2008