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The people over at

http://vegaquarium.wordpress.com/

are trying to be vegan for a week. I’m lending moral support with this recipe

White bean soup

This is ideal comfort food if you’re under the weather, but is posh enough to serve at a dinner party.

Here’s what you need

Two 400g cans of cannellini beans. You can buy the dried ones and soak them overnight, but you may have better things to do with your time, such as have a root canal done.

A small onion

Two big cloves of garlic

Some pine nuts (not if you’ve got a sore throat)

Fresh basil or coriander

Groundnut oil

Sesame oil

Olive oil for dressing

Chilli oil (not if you’ve got a sore throat

Here’s what you do

Drain the beans and rinse them

Peel and finely chop the onion. It’s better if you grate it, but you may not feel up to this if you’re not feeling 100%

Peel and crush the garlic

In a heavy pan, gently heat two tablespoons of groundnut oil and few drops of sesame oil

Add the onion, and fry it very gently. Keep it moving, and do not let it brown. When the onion is soft and transparent, chuck it in a blender/food processor

Use the same pan. Add the beans. Take one of the empty cans out of the rubbish bin, rinse it, and use it to measure two cans’ full of water. Add this to the beans, with some salt if you must.

Warm gently to a good simmer, turn the heat down to a very gentle simmer for five minutes. Gentle means gentle. The odd bubble now and then.

Cover tightly, and switch the heat off. Have a drink and a natter with your friends for about ten minutes. Send some emails. Whatever. Oh yeah, take some time out to finely shred some basil (Tip. Stack the leaves on top of each other, roll them into a sausage, and chop as finely as you can across the sausage. Oh, I’m sorry, did you already know that?) or coriander

Chuck a good handful of pine nuts in the blender, and the garlic, and whizz vigorously. You’re aiming for a smooth, bit-free paste.

Add the beans and water.

Put the lid on the blender, or things will get messy. Whizz vigorously for a couple of minutes till it’s all lovely and runny and smooth.

Pour everything back in the pan, and heat gently stirring all the time, until it comes to the simmer.

Pour into bowls, teaspoon full of pine nuts (if no sore throat) drizzle of olive oil, or chilli oil (if no sore throat) and a sprinkle of herbs across the top.

A variant

In the summer this is delicious cold. Let the contents of the pan cool. Check the consistency when the soup is cold. If it’s a bit stiff, like semolina pudding, add a tablespoon of tepid (lovely word, that) water and stir well. If it’s still a bit viscous, and another tablespoon of water and stir. Do not, under any circumstances, just sling water in by eye. If it goes too liquid, you’re finished. You’ll have to boil thins up again, and your soup won’t be cold, will it? Then you’ll have to tell lies to your friends, and that’s never a good thing.

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