Saturday, May 26, 2018

White Bean and Lemon Soup – has the X-Factor !

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Compare and contrast: your beloved feeding you oysters... or strawberries... and now, that same scene with soup... Eeek!!! Let’s face it, soup just isn’t sexy. Most of the time, it isn’t even good-looking.
I think the writer, Judith Martin, sums up the nature of soup beautifully in this quote:
"Do you have a kinder, more adaptable friend in the food world than soup? Who soothes you when you are ill? Who refuses to leave you when you are impoverished and stretches its resources to give a hearty sustenance and cheer? Who warms you in the winter and cools you in the summer? Yet who also is capable of doing honour to your richest table and impressing your most demanding guests? Soup does its loyal best, no matter what undignified conditions are imposed upon it. You don't catch steak hanging around when you're poor and sick, do you?"
I think she is right. Soup is a friend with an engaging personality, able to charm just about anyone, be they king or pauper.
One of the things I love about soup is its ability to surprise. It is capable of having that X-Factor, that Susan Boyle moment. Then, a seeming bland bowlful - made from a handful of simple ingredients - will sing out at the top of its voice, hitting all the right notes, and just blow you away.
For 4 servings you will need...
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 stick of celery, peeled and finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 fat clove of garlic, crushed
400g tinned white beans such as Cannellini (rinsed and drained)
750mls good-quality chicken stock (use vegetable stock if you prefer)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice 
A tablespoon of finely chopped fresh parsley (optional) 

Magic beans!

1                    Place the olive oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat and add the onion, celery and bay leaf. Lower the heat and cook gently for about 5 minutes until onion is soft and translucent but has not taken on any colour. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.
2                    Add the beans, stock, lemon zest and lemon juice to the saucepan. When it has come to the boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Remove the bayleaf before blending the soup to a smooth liquid – a stick blender is the perfect tool for this.  Serve with a sprinkling of parsley and some good crusty bread.
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