As you’ll no doubt spot, this is a variant of my usual soup, still vegetarian but this time using beans I cooked myself, chickpea stock, saved from when I made hummus and frozen, and spiked with Harissa.
It’s different, but is it better?
Good question – watch this space…
500g cooked Pinto beans (or 2 cans of Napolina Pinto beans, rinsed and drained. Drained weight of all Napolina beans is 240g per can)
3 medium Echalion Shallots, finely chopped
2 strong cooking onions, ditto**
3 Sweet Spear Carrots, peeled and sliced
1/3rd of a medium Swede, peeled and diced***
2 Rooster Potatoes (about 500g in total, unpeeled weight), peeled and diced***
20 button Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and halved (optional, but I like greens in soup)
500ml Chickpea stock
1 Kallo organic vegetable stock cube (use 2 if no stock available)
1 tablespoon Harissa ****
½ teaspoon celery salt
A knob of butter (preferably clarified)
A splash of olive oil
Maldon Sea Salt to taste. There’s pepper in the Harissa.
A good tablespoon of Marigold Bouillon Powder (or to taste)
**No matter where I buy cooking onions, they’re always the same size, a bit smaller than a tennis ball.
***Size of the dice is a little less than a centimetre in both cases.
****If you’re wary of chillies, try 2 teaspoons. Taste when finished and add another teaspoon if you like – it’ll infuse overnight. Caution: Harissa is very much hotter in soup than in a stew – and I mean seriously, grab-you-by-the-throat hot. No idea why, but take care if you don’t like too much heat. A tablespoon in my Lamb with dates, sweet red peppers, and black olives is pleasantly spicy with a hint of mint. In the soup it’s incandescent!
Quantities are not critical – this amount fills my usual 3-litre pot, scale up or down according to what you have.
I used Rooster potatoes because that’s what I have. Almost any spud will do as long as it’s not too floury.
When I cook beans I always put in a chopped carrot and an onion – and freeze the cooking liquid after allowing the beans to cool in it – it makes great stock for veggie soups and stews and flavours the beans too. Tesco Resealable Food Bags (Medium), are robust enough for freezing stock, cooked beans, or soup.
By the way, beans are traditionally cooked with a lump of fat pork, and the beans absorb the fat as they cook. Veggies tend to put olive oil in the pot to get the same effect, but as the oil just floats on the surface all it does is scent the kitchen – it does sod all for the beans.** This nonsense even pre-dates Elizabeth David, who really should have known better, but repeats it in a recipe for Tuscan Bean Soup in Dried Herbs, Aromatics, and Condiments, in 1967, republished in Is There a Nutmeg in the House? in 2000.
**Stirring a good slug of decent olive oil through cooked and drained beans while still hot is a much better idea. Use a metal spoon to avoid breaking the beans, and stir up the oil from the bottom several times while they’re cooling.
Anyway, back to the soup.
Melt the butter with the oil and sweat off the alliums over a gentle heat, until soft but not coloured. Stir in the Harissa and cook off for a couple of minutes. Add everything else except the Maldon, the potatoes and the sprouts, plus enough boiling water and/or stock to just cover, bring back to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the carrots are almost soft.
While the soup’s cooking, boil the diced spuds in salted water until soft but not falling apart. Drain and set aside.
When the carrots are almost soft, add the sprouts, bring up to the boil, reduce and simmer again until the sprouts are soft, then add the beans and spuds, top up with boiling water, stir well, but gently so you don’t break up the veg and beans. Bring up to the boil then remove from the heat and leave to cool (the beans and spuds just need to heat through, which they’ll do in the residual heat.
When it’s cooled sufficiently, taste and adjust with Marigold and Maldon (Marigold first as it contains salt, then taste and add Maldon if it needs it). It actually took a surprising amount of both but my sense of taste has gone to hell, so be guided by your own.
And that’s it. Let it cool and refrigerate it overnight, so the flavours can snuggle up in the dark and smooth each other out.
Important Note:- I removed some of the soup liquid to a small pan (gently press a large wire sieve into the soup – it’ll fill with liquid and you can scoop it out), whisked in three tablespoons of bread flour (you can use plain), cooked it off for 10 minutes then stirred it back into the pot (put it through the sieve to catch any lumps). I’m hoping the flour will buffer the Harissa and take some of the bite out of it, but I won’t know until tomorrow.
I’ll let you know.