Monday, 29 February 2016

Spiced Red Kidney Bean Soup

I've given up parsley for Lent and we still have weeks and weeks to go, it already feels like ages. This soup recipe however uses bay leaves, two of them fresh if you are lucky enough to have a bay tree or live in Fentiman Road where the local pub has a magnificent one. The other particular flavourings are cumin, chilli and a tiny but relevant amount of cinnamon. The result is a delicious warming soup with definite flavours of Central America. How else could you feed 4 to 6 people with a hearty luncheon dish using little more than a carrot, a leek, an onion and some kidney beans.

For thie recipe you will need;
300g of cooked red kidney beans
80g of chopped carrots
80g of chopped leek
1 small onion
1 tablespoon of sofrito click here for the recipe
1 tablespoon of tomato oil click here for the recipe
1 tablespoon of good tomato puree
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of chili flakes
2 teaspoons of Pul Biber chilli
1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1/3 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1/2 tablespoon of light olive oil
2 litres of vegetable stock
50g of unsalted butter

Begin by gently frying the spices in the light olive oil in a large saucepan for 1 minute. Add the chopped vegetables and the sofrito. Sweat the vegetables gently for 3 to 4 minutes before adding the tomato puree and the tomato oil, continue to cook over a gentle heat for a further 3 to 4 minutes. I've said it before but it's essential to cook out tomato puree whenever you are using it in order to soften and enrich the flavour. Add the cooked beans and the vegetable stock, throw in the bay leaves and pop on a lid, simmer the soup for a good hour to an hour and a half.
I like to think I invented this next step, a method of enriching any soup without having to add cream and in so doing, giving it in my opinion, too dairy a flavour. I blend some or all of a soup with a small amount of butter. I restrict the amount of oil used in the first place in order to avoid the soup being to oily. In this case I blend about half the soup, taking care to include the bulk of the beans and to remove the bay leaves before starting. I want to end up with a soup that has some texture and this method works well. Add the butter and taking the precautions you always would whilst blending any hot liquid, blend until you have a smooth result. Return the blended soup to the remaining soup in the saucepan and heat through before serving.

It must be obvious to people that the weights for the vegetables are a bit arbitrary, I still have carrots I am happily pulling up in my garden and a few stray leeks, you can always adjust these weights to suit what you have in the house. It is also true that you could choose alternative beans, borlotti or pinto beans would be good as indeed flageolet beans would, though of course they would produce subtly different flavoured soups. As with all good recipes this is one that I would hope people will adapt to suit their pantry's contents.

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