Saturday, 3 October 2009

Hearty Tuscan Bean Soup

I found myself pottering around my kitchen on Saturday afternoon, feeling slightly fuzzy round the edges after one too many glasses of wine the night before, but blissfully happy in the knowledge that I had no plans, nowhere to be, and that it was just horrible enough outside to justify my staying indoors all day.

So instead of reaching for the frozen pizza - as I am wont to do on such occasions - I began flicking through a few of the blogs I like to follow, and I came upon this month's No Croutons Required competition, hosted by Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes. In the spirit of our recession-hit times, the theme this time is frugality, and the aim is to create a vegetarian soup (or salad) using only storecupboard ingredients, plus whatever you can find in the fridge. That got me thinking - hey, I've got a tin of tomatoes in the cupboard, and a tin of butter beans, plus there's all that veg from our weekly organic box that needs using up ...

And so, with an added dash of inspiration after watching Nigel Slater's new programme the other day, I set about creating my competition entry. A kind of autumnal, warming bean soup with hints of our holiday in Italy earlier this year, I'm calling it my Hearty Tuscan Bean Soup. It's truly one of the most delicious things I've eaten in a long time - far better than that frozen pizza I'd had my eyes on...

Hearty Tuscan Bean Soup
Serves 4

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 stick celery, 1 carrot and 1 red pepper, all coarsely chopped
tin butter beans, drained and rinsed
tin chopped tomatoes
500ml vegetable stock
squeeze of tomato puree
the heel of a chunk of parmesan or pecorino, if desired/available (thanks to NS for this idea!)
pinch oregano
a few sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Saute the onion and garlic in some olive oil for a few minutes, until soft but not brown. Add the chopped veg and continue to saute, covered, for a further 5 minutes.
2. Add the tomatoes, stock and tomato puree, stir well and bring to a simmer. Throw in the end of a chunk of parmesan or pecorino, if you happen to have one hiding in the back of the fridge.
3. Add the herbs and seasoning, along with the butter beans, and simmer a few more minutes until the flavours have melded together and the cheese is meltingly soft but not broken up.
4. Remove the cheese from the pot, check the seasoning, and serve the soup with some rustic Italian bread and maybe a drizzle of olive oil.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely looking soup Claire. Thanks for submitting it and good luck.