Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tomato, Bean and Spinach soup

A pure soup for when you need clarity in your life.

This soup uses a base prepared first and then used to cook the additional flavourings so you could easily prepare a large batch of the base and freeze some to use later.

- Peel and roughly chop up half an onion and peel a clove of garlic.
- Pop in a pan with some oil and cook gently until the onion is soft and translucently honey coloured.
- Add in some tomatoes, a tin of plum tomatoes or half a dozen fresh ones chopped up. The soup will be strained through a seive so don't worry about the skin or seeds - put it all in.
- Add a pint of half strength vegetable stock and simmer gently until the tomatoes are broken down and soft, about twenty minutes.
- Put a sieve over a bowl, pour the soup in and rub it through with a wooden spoon to separate out the lumpy bits. Squash the garlic against the sieve and push it through as well.

If you have made lots, this is the point to freeze some for later.

- Pop the soup back in a pan along with a tin of beans (I used cannellini)that you have rinsed under the cold tap and warm gently .

Fresh would be nice but they are best soaked overnight and not being that organized I generally use canned, just be sure to rinse off that strange gooey water that they come in. Canned beans are very delicate of course and will easily break up if you boil the soup too fiercely so bring them up to heat very gently and only cook long enough to warm them through.

Last thing to go in is the spinach, their are two ways to do this. You could add it straight to the soup to cook but this will risk breaking up the beans so I usually cook it separately and put some in the bowls and pour the soup over to serve. It does not have to be spinach of course, any vegetable would do - celery, cabbage, broccoli even. These take longer to cook so add them at the same time as the beans and serve the soup as soon as they are just cooked. But spinach it was this time so . . .

- Rinse the spinach under the cold tap to wash of the grit then drain and put into a warm saucepan with just the water left sticking to it. Stir around a bit while it steams until it wilts, this only takes seconds.
- Put some spinach in the bottom of each bowl, ladle over the soup and serve with some plain bread.

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