Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A dodgy bean soup

We wean ourselves off many of our cruder childhood tastes. But all of us, save the most fastidious gourmets, carry on liking things that are not, judged by the highest culinary standards, good. I enjoy bought vanilla puddings. And Cheddars (they are inconsistent; but I like the small ones when they have been well baked, combining crunch with a moist savouriness). I overdose on chillis and chilli sauce, blitzing every other flavour. I have not eaten a Fray Bentos pie for a while, but I am sure that I would still like the slippery underside of the pastry.

I would not serve the following soup at a dinner party. On a scale of 1 to 10, a food critic might give it minus 10. But I cook it often at lunchtime, and consider it a treat. The quantity will serve 2; but I usually get through it all myself.

1/2 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
4 cardamom pods
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion, chopped
1 400 g tin cannellini or borlotti beans
1/3 stock cube (optional) -- any flavour

Chop the garlic; crush the cumin and cardamom. Fry them gently in the oil, for about a minute, until they give off an aroma. Add the onions, and more oil if necessary; fry gently until they are soft and golden (this may take 20 minutes). Now the controversial bit: add the beans, and their juice. (Recipes usually tell you to get rid of this salty, slimy juice, and to rinse the beans.) If you're using a stock cube, dissolve it in a little boiling water, and add it, along with more boiling water to come to a level just above the beans. Bring the contents of the pan to a simmer, and leave to bubble gently for about five minutes.

I usually add some harissa (quite a lot -- but that's me) at this stage, and chopped parsley if I have it. (If you don't have harissa, and want some heat, add some chilli powder when you pour in the beans.) I blend the soup with a stick blender; but one might use instead a Mouli-legumes, a liquidiser, or a potato masher.

The soup has a mealy, viscous texture. If you have made it with borlotti beans, the colour is an unappetising, sludgy brown. Yum, yum.

1 comment:

Michael Allen said...

Not at all dodgy, in my opinion -- really quite good, with an unusual flavour. I used cannellini beans, and this particular brand had no added sugar or salt, so some salt was needed.