I was going to write an entirely different recipe today, but that is taking so much of my time on this rainy busy day, that I just had to forgo the idea. Instead let me give you a deliciously hearty recipe for a soup that is easily becoming a staple in my house.
A few months ago, my bro-in-law J2 awarded me the guardianship of some of his cookbooks, a role which I take very seriously, by cooking from them myself, as it should be. It made me think of this beautiful bean soup, especially because today the rain is coming down hard on this island, and it looks as if it’s staying for the next couple of days. It’s annoying but truly we need it. I feel sorry for all those who need to venture out. The roads are crazy with traffic and I just received a message from a friend saying how soaked she got. Stay safe and avoid extra driving everyone. It’s not nice out there.
So this evening stay in with a nice bowl of soup watching your favourite TV show or movie. The ingredients in this recipe are cupboard staples. One of the pros here is that you can easily substitute dried beans with the tinned version. Now please don’t say that I am against dried beans, because I’m definitely not. I tip my hat to all those who remember to soak the beans in water the night before. I really do. Deep respect. I just forget. I like to keep tinned beans in my food cupboard because I tend to make soups on a whim, which is much better than not making any at all.
This recipe, adapted from one of Gino D’Acampo’s books, has minimal prep with the punchiest taste. I made it on a moment’s notice late at night a few months ago, when I needed something wholesome, restorative and comforting without the faff. Go easy on the salt in this one. The pancetta gives you plenty of depth.
- 4 tablespoons regular olive oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 150g diced pancetta
- 1 tablespoon dried rosemary, finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
- 2 x 400g tinned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 x 400g tinned kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 x 400g tinned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 x 400g tinned lentils, drained and rinsed
- 100g tinned chopped tomatoes
- 2.5 litres vegetable stock
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 x 15ml tablespoon dark brown sugar (optional, or to taste)
Pour the olive oil in a large heavy-based pot over medium-low heat. Sweat the onion and pancetta, until the onion softens and turns translucent. Tip in the rosemary and chilli flakes, and stir.
Add all the beans, the chickpeas and lentils and cook for around 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and stock to the pot. When it starts to simmer, bring the heat down to low and cook uncovered for around 30 minutes while giving it the occasional stir.
Add salt, pepper and sugar to taste.
(Recipe adapted from Gino’s Italian Escape, Gino D’Acampo, Hodder & Stoughton, 2013)