27 March, 2013

March recipe: Tomato and bean soup

This filling soup is simple to make, inexpensive and uses mainly store-cupboard ingredients (a welcome feature if it’s too cold to go to the shop, or if you’re snowed in).  Its bright colour and mildly spicy flavour make it a cheerful and comforting dish on a cold day.  

It works equally well with haricot beans, butter beans or cannellini beans, so you can choose whichever you prefer or happen to have to hand. If using dried beans, remember to put them in to soak the night before.

This recipe serves two as a main meal with bread, or four as a first course.  It freezes well, so you can make double the quantity and freeze half to use later.

Tomato and bean soup

4 oz (approx 125 g) dried haricot beans, butter beans or cannellini beans
1 onion
0.5 oz (approx 15 g) butter
Approximately 7 oz (approx 200 g) tinned chopped tomatoes
1 bay leaf (or 1 teaspoon (1 x 5 ml spoon) dried mixed herbs)
0.5 teaspoon (1 x 2.5 ml spoon) demerara sugar
0.75 pint (approx 425 ml) water or vegetable stock

Soak the dried beans in cold water for 4-6 hours or overnight.

Rinse the soaked beans two or three times in cold water.

Put the beans in a saucepan with plenty of cold water, bring to the boil, then simmer over a low heat until the beans are cooked (about 1 to 1.25 hours).

Peel and chop the onion.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, and fry the chopped onion gently in the butter over a low heat until the onion is softened and starting to colour.

Stir in the tinned chopped tomatoes, cooked beans , bay leaf (or dried mixed herbs), sugar and water or stock.  Season with salt and black pepper.

Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf (if using).  Serve hot with bread.

Can be frozen.

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