Posts Tagged ‘onions’

Another bean soup–can’t have too many in my opinion!

Interior insulation for the post prandial walk on a chilly winter day.

This satisfying soup is based on one in Elizabeth Romer’s lovely book, The Tuscan Year: Life and Food in an Italian Family.

Her account of the Cerroti family’s daily existence is a good read and full of authentic seasonal recipes.

Serves 4

4 tbsp olive oil

2 onions – chopped small

2 sticks of celery – chopped small

3 cloves of garlic – finely chopped

100 g/4 oz smoked bacon/pancetta – use unsmoked if you prefer – chopped small

4 tbsp parsley – chopped

1 x 450 g/16 oz can tomatoes – drained and chopped

350 g/12 oz tinned/jarred white beans – drained, rinsed and puréed–use the best quality beans you can find–it makes a difference

570 ml/1 pint/ vegetable stock – more if you like (I use organic veg. stock cubes)

150 g/6 oz “short” wholewheat pasta – (i.e. penne or farfalle, not spaghetti)

salt and pepper

freshly-grated parmesan

  • Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan.
  • Add the onions, celery, garlic, bacon and parsley, and turn them in the oil.
  • Cook them over a gentle heat until the vegetables are tender and the bacon is colouring up – this is the “taste engine” of the soup and needs some time – at least 20 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and mix them in and allow to meld for a good 10 minutes.
  • Add the beans and mix in.
  • Cook gently for 10 minutes.
  • These stages are important for a good depth of flavour and shouldn’t be rushed.
  • The soup should look beautiful now – with a warm glow.
  • Add half the stock and let it meld in.
  • Add the pasta and the rest of the stock and cook the pasta in the soup.
  • It may take a little longer than pasta normally does (I put a lid on at this point to help).
  • Be careful that this thick and unctuous soup does not stick and burn.
  • If you prefer it looser, add more stock and cook on a little to incorporate it.
  • Check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste –remembering that the bacon and stock can be salty.
  • Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and swirls of olive oil.

(This nourishing soup is included in my cookbook–Delicious Dishes for Diabetics–a Mediterranean Way of Eating.)

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I’ve always liked Brussel sprouts–they were on the winter menu in the fifties. Clearly Ma knew not to overcook them and I have a memory of mushing them with the gravy from the Sunday roast. She added chestnuts to them at Christmas–even better!

Preparing them for the pan was often my job on a Sunday morning.

“Cut across the base, peel away the outer leaves and make a cross–(“Why?”)–to make them cook more quickly”

This delicious and surprising soup is quick to prepare and has a pleasing light green colour.

It’s not a thick soup but nourishing on a winter night.

for 4

2 medium onions–chopped

500gms trimmed brussel sprouts--trim the bottoms, remove the outer leaves and cut the sprouts in half

1 tblsp olive oil

1 tsp of butter

750ml/1 1/2 pints vegetable stock— (I use organic vegetable stock cubes.)

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

salt and pepper

  • In a saucepan gently sweat the onions and sprouts in the oil and butter for about 10 minutes.
  • Add the stock and bring to simmer.
  • Simmer gently for 20 minutes–the sprouts need to soften.
  • Liquidize (a handheld food mixer comes in handy here) and check the seasoning.
  • Season lightly with salt (remembering the stock cube may have salt in it), plenty of pepper and the nutmeg.
  • Serve hot with a teaspoon of low fat yogurt (or cream if you dare!).

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