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Still Loving the Soup

December 3, 2009

As I mentioned previously, my trip to Scotland reignited my love for soup and I’ve made plenty since, adapting the original recipe from the River Cafe quite a bit over the weeks. Then I saw the invitation on What’s for Lunch Honey to take part in the 38th Monthly Mingle – Warming Soups for the Happy Soul. Well, I don’t really believe in the concept of the soul as such, however if there’s something that lifts and warms my heart it’s chopping and stirring, creating over a low simmer and then enjoying the fruits of my labour, and this soup has warmed me, both literally and figuratively quite a bit over the past few weeks.


Firstly, the tinned cannelini beans were a bit hit or miss, too often dry and grainy. Textures are always important in food, whether complimentary or contrasting, and I make this soup with plenty of very chunky vegetables in order to provide some bite, the greens added at different times to give variation. The beans are by no means the main ingredient, but there’s nothing worse than glancing at the next mouthful on the spoon, spying a bean and feeling a sense of trepidation. I bought some Cerrato ‘Organic Minestrone with Kamut’ bean mix containing various beans and lentils from Waitrose on a whim, the pre-soaking is a bit of a pain, but worth it as they’re just delicious.

I’ve added a decent amount of tomato puree for some extra depth and a sprinkling of chilli flakes too. I’ve also, thanks to an excess in a colleagues veg box and their generosity, discovered calvo nero and can’t seem to get enough at the moment. I don’t know how many the following recipe would feed as it keeps me going for nearly a week, the flavours developing all the time. The great thing is it’s infinately adaptable – take out or add as your taste or the seasons dictate.

200g beans pre-soaked for 12 hours
Olive oil
1 large leek
1 large carrot
1 head of celery
Tin of chopped tomatoes
Bunch of parsley
Tomato puree
1/4 tsp chili flakes
large bunch of Calvo Nero or cabbage/greens of your choice, roughly chopped

  • Cover the beans with water, cover, bring to the boil and then simmer for 40 minutes.
  • Chop the carrots, leeks and celery roughly, I like my veg to still have a bite at the end so keep the pieces quite big.
  • Put a dash of olive oil in a large pan, when hot add the chopped veg and cook slowly over a medium heat for 20 mins, stirrring all the time to prevent them browning or sticking.
  • Add tomato puree, chopped parsley, chili flakes to your taste and coat the vegetables before adding the tin of tomatoes, simmer for 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are reduced.
  • Add the greens – if using a more delicate green reserve half for adding at a later point
  • Add the drained beans and pour boiling water over to cover the contents of the pan and simmer for 20 – 30 mins.
  • If you’ve reserved some greens add them 5 mins before the end.
  • Serve with some parmesan and fresh bread should you wish.

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