If I had to choose a couple of favourite soups this would certainly be one of them. Simple, wholesome and easy to make, this is a delicious soup and has been part of my soup repertoire for many years. I make it with small white cannelini beans that have been soaked overnight. If you are in a hurry and wish to make the soup the same day you can boil the beans, leave them in the pot soaking in the boiling water for a couple of hours and then proceed with the recipe. This isn’t the time to use canned beans, you just wouldn’t get the flavour. The soup is thick and flavourful and lends itself to different finishes. Drizzle a good olive oil over, sprinkle with toasted herbed crumbs, stir in a spoonful of pistou (similar to pesto) or garnish with a dollop of crème fraiche instead.
2 cups white cannelini beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced
4 medium juicy tomatoes, grated to the skin
6 cups stock, chicken or vegetables, more as needed
3 sprig of fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
Olive oil for drizzling
Herbed crumbs for sprinkling over the soup
Soak bean overnight in cold water to cover.
Heat oil in a soup pot, add chopped onion and cook until softened and fragrant.
Add garlic and stir but watch not to burn the garlic.
Add carrot and stir a couple of minutes to soften.
Drain the beans and add to the pot.
Add stock and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer on the back of the stove for a couple of hours until the beans are cooked through. You will need to add some more stock every now and then. Don’t add the salt until the beans are cooked through. Adding the salt sooner may toughen the outer skin of the beans and they will not cook properly.
To serve you can puree some of the soup but I wouldn’t make it completely smooth. It’s a rustic country soup and should retain texture. I usually serve it as is, with a dollop of crème fraiche or a drizzle of good olive oil. Serve with crusty bread and unsalted butter. This soup and a salad make a wonderful dinner.