The Cookbook Challenge No. 23: Leaf

When I made this dish, the weather was starting to cool down, and my cravings for hearty meals of casseroles, mashed potato, and thick soups was starting to kick in. I absolutely love this time of year except for this one weird thing I've been noticing for the last few years...for the first month of Autumn, I am always hungry! As I don't really cope during our Summers and tend to eat a lot of salads for lunch and dinner, I guess it's my body's way of 'going back to normal'. If only my thighs could agree. So for this week's theme I decided to indulge my cravings and make......

A Soup-Stew of Beans and Cavolo Nero
Tender Volume 1
Author: Nigel Slater

~  ~  ~

250g dried beans, such as cannellini, butter beans or borlotti
2 bay leaves
Olive oil
150g pancetta in the piece
2 large onions
2 carrots
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
400g chopped tomatoes
1 litre of water or vegetable stock
Small butternut squash or pumpkin
Meaty ham bone or knuckle of Parma ham
Short length of rind from a lump of Parmesan
Handful of flat leaved parsley, roughly chopped
2 large handfuls of cavolo nero or half a small cabbage, cut into wedges

Serves 4-6

Soak the beans overnight in deep, cold water. Drain, tip them into a large, deep saucepan and cover them with fresh water. Bring to the boil, then remove the froth from the surface with a draining spoon. Drop in the bay leaves and a tablespoon or so of olive oil and leave to boil merrily for forty-five minutes to an hour, until tender. Add salt to the water about twenty minutes before the end of cooking. Drain and set aside.

Cut the pancetta into short lengths or fat cubes, put them in a deep pan with a couple of spoonfuls of oil and set over a moderate heat. Peel the onions, halve them and slice them thinly. Once the pancetta has begun to sizzle, add the onions and stir them from time to time until they soften.

Scrub the carrots, cut them into large dice and add to the onions with the garlic. Let everything soften without colouring, lowering the heat as and when you need to. Add the tomatoes and let them soften before pouring in the water or stock. Peel and roughly chop the squash or pumpkin and stir it in.

Now add the ham bone and Parmesan rind. Bring the soup to the boil, then turn down the heat so that it simmers gently. Cover with lid but set it askew so that some of the stem escapes. Leave to simmer with only the occasional stir for an hour and a half, by which time the soup should be thick, rich and heavy.

Add the beans to the pot along with the parsley and cabbage leaves. Continue cooking for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with grated Parmesan.

~  ~  ~

Yum, yum, yum!

Unfortunately, my green grocer on the day I went shopping for these ingredients didn't have any Cavalo Nero, so instead of switching recipes I decided to use Silver Beet instead, and it worked really well.

After devouring a bowl myself, I packaged the soup into containers and put it in the freezer for lunches during the week - I'm really against buying my lunches at work (unless it's sushi of course) as I never know what ingredients they've put in the dish, or how they made it (not really trusting, am I?), as well as the fact that it can cost a small fortune (prefer to spend my money on shoes!) I've had one of the soups since, and it re-heats really well, so I definitely plan to add this one to my soup making rotation during winter.

1 comment:

  1. Ahhh, you are a woman after my own heart - I also prefer to bring my lunch to work and spend the money on shoes! ;)


Love to hear from you!