Let’s face it. Summer is pretty much over here in the UK. My thoughts are turning to soothing comfort food. I needed something comforting the other day and I remembered this simple bean soup that uses the best of seasonal vegetables and delivers in flavour and nutrition. I haven’t been so organised lately, long working hours and a family to keep on track has taken up a lot of my time. I am going to make another batch of this rich and thick soup for the week, so I know I have a bowl of goodness waiting for me at lunchtime. Just remember to soak your beans in cold water the night before you plan to make it.
2 x cups of dried white beans (cannellini, white kidney beans etc)
1/3 x cup extra virgin olive oil
1 x large onion – finely chopped
4 x large cloves of garlic – grated
2 x carrots diced (wash and leave the skin on – that’s where a lot of the goodness is!)
1- 2 x sticks of celery – diced
1 x 400 g tin of plum tomatoes – mashed
2 x tbsp tomato puree
2x bay leaves
1-2 x tsp Dried Greek Oregano (if you can get it)
1/2 x tsp of chilli flakes or paprika (if you want a little heat if not leave it out).
1 x tsp sea salt
1 x tsp ground black pepper
3- 4 x cups of water (more if needed)
Soak your beans in cold water overnight.
Drain and rinse the beans and set aside.
Add the olive oil to a large deep pan and bring to a medium heat.
Saute the onions and garlic for a 5-6 minutes and then add the chopped carrot and celery and saute for a few more minutes.
Add in the drained beans and stir. Mash the tinned tomatoes (if using plum tomatoes – I have found just squishing with your hands works well!)
Add the tomato puree, bay leaves, oregano, salt & pepper, paprika (if using) and the water.
You may need to add more water as the soup cooks depending on whether you want a thick or thin soup – it’s up to you!
Bring everything to a boil and then reduce to a low heat, put the lid on and cook for about 2 hrs – or until the beans are just getting soft. The only thing you have to do is check now and again the thickness of the soup and if it’s getting too thick add some more water – too watery add a bit more tomato puree.
Once cooked, serve with fresh crusty bread, olives and salad. This soup gets better after a day or so, so you can store in the fridge and eat for a few days.
These types of soup have kept the Greeks strong over the centuries and are full of nutritional longevity magic!