One of the joys of the colder months, particularly just after Christmas when the food has normally been rather rich, is a simple bowlful of soup accompanied by some crusty fresh bread. I was attracted to the flavour combination of the ingredients in this recipe: carrot always makes a delicious soup (at least I think so), butter beans add a smooth creaminess and rosemary gives both scent and flavour. This is my final recipe this year for seasonal leftovers. It was first made just after Christmas so I used Turkey stock, but the original recipe specified chicken stock (vegetable stock would be fine too). Don’t worry if you are a bit fed up with turkey flavour as the main flavours come from the other ingredients so you won’t feel you are eating ’that bird’ - yet again!
The recipe comes from my soup book: the Women’s Institute Soups for all Seasons by Liz Herbert. Butterbean, Carrot & Rosemary Soup, the original title, is listed in the Winter section and it truly is a warming bowlful for a cold lunchtime. It was made and on the table in a very short time, which is always an advantage. The recipe uses tinned beans. Dried beans can be substituted (in which case the amount of beans used should be halved) and I have given details below, however the recipe will no longer be so speedy. The carrot predominates and my version has the option of adding extra carrot, so I changed the title a little. The word ‘Thatched’ is my addition, which I have used once before when I grated cheese onto Thatched Cauliflower Cheese Soup. This time I suggest an additional small carrot is grated with most stirred in and a scattering on top for decoration, or if you prefer simply reserve and add a few strands for decoration. Stirred though, without cooking, gives a crunchy texture to the otherwise smooth soup. On first tasting the soup can taste a little bland so beware overseasoning and taste again before serving.
Thatched Carrot, Butterbean & Rosemary Soup
2tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
12ozs/35og carrots, diced
1 or 2 sticks celery, diced
1½pints/700ml turkey or chicken stock
2tsp fresh chopped rosemary (or 1tsp dried rosemary): more if you love rosemary
1 bay leaf
400g can butterbeans, rinsed & drained (or 200g dried butterbeans)
salt & freshly ground black pepper
sprigs of fresh rosemary to garnish (if available)
1 more carrot, grated (small: garnish only/medium: garnish & stir in) optional
1. For tinned beans, start at step 2.
If using dried beans instead of tinned they should first be soaked overnight to soften or, if time is short, pour over boiling water and leave for 1 hour. Bring to the boil in unsalted water, reduce heat and cook until soft, about 30minutes, before using in the recipe. (Salted water will toughen the skins of the beans.)
2. Heat the olive oil in a large lidded saucepan. Gently sweat the onion, garlic, carrots and celery for about 10 minutes until soft but not browned. Shake or stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
3. Add the stock, rosemary and bay leaf and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Stir in the butterbeans. Simmer for a further 10 minutes.
5. Allow the soup to cool slightly and purée, using a liquidiser if available. Check and adjust seasoning. I usually add a little more hot water to rinse the liquidiser once the soup has been puréed so I do not lose any of the soup. Return the soup to the saucepan along with this extra soupy water and reheat. If you are stirring grated carrot through the soup then add it just before the soup is served, reserving a small amount to garnish. Do not reheat for too long as the grated carrot will lose its crunch.
6. Serve in bowls, garnished with a thatch of grated carrot and a sprig of fresh rosemary. The original recipe suggests that the pretty lavender flowers of rosemary, if in season, add to the appearance of the dish.