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Autumn's leaves blew hard and fast this weekend, with a threat of winter and summer becoming a distant memory. Salad days have turned into rain and soup days. Days when all I really want to do is get into my PJs, grab a bowl of soul healing soup, and watch Carry on Constable (other Carry On films are available!). However, my wife continually reminds me that I have to go to work! So, on such dreich days I make a beeline to my warm kitchen to rustle up a simple, nourishing, and warming bowl of goodness. I think I am just getting old, but I can't say I'm looking forward to six months of piling on layer upon layer of clothing to go about my daily business. I think my misery has been compounded by the news report this morning that suggested snow may arrive as early as November this year and hang around like a long lost relative "popping in" over Christmas until February!
It does remind me, however, that seasonal food IS the food we need to eat. I want a warm, wholesome, health giving bowl of vegetables in a melange of congeniality! I need carb rich, iron green abundance, and slow simmering dark rich stocks. And it's easy! More often than not you can just put your chopped veggies in a pan, put on the stock, and voila, soup! There are, of course, more complicated versions, but it's no coincidence that to make one of the most satisfying bowls of nourishment known to man is a simple task, accessible to even the most novice of cooks.
The blurb from the delightful An Exaltation of Soups: The Soul-Satisfying Story of Soup, As Told in More Than 100 Recipes by Patricia Solley, puts it beautifully:
"Throughout history and around the world, soup has been used to bring comfort, warmth, and good health. A bowl of soup can symbolize so much—celebrations, major life passages, and the everyday. ...soups to heal the sick, recover from childbirth, soothe a hangover, entice the object of your affection, and mark special occasions and holidays...
- Festive Wedding Soup with Meatballs from Italy
- Egyptian Fava Bean Soup, made to give strength to convalescents.
- Creamy Fennel Soup with Shallots and Orange Spice from Catalonia—perfect for wooing a lover.
- Hungarian “Night Owl” Soup, designed to chase a hangover.
- Spicy Pumpkin and Split Pea Soup from Morocco, served to celebrate Rosh Hashanah.
To satisfy my soul I put together this simple, adaptable, and nourishing soup.
The ingredients are:
- 1 medium size onion, diced
- 2/3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 carrot, diced
- I stick of celery, diced
- 3 handfuls of fresh borlotti beans
- 1 clove of garlic, whole, peeled.
- 2 bay leaves
- A tin of chopped tomatoes
- Dark leafy greens (I've used purple stem kale from the fabulous Bosley Patch)
- TBSPs of sage and rosemary
- A small bunch of chopped flat leaf parsley
- A pinch of chili flakes
And follow these directions:
- Cover the beans with water, add the garlic cloves and bay leaves.
- Bring to a boil then immediately reduce to a simmer. The beans need to be soft but holding their form.
- In a separate pan add a glug of olive oil.
- Gently sauté the onions, garlic, carrots, and celery until softened.
- Add the tin of tomatoes, fill the tin up with water, and add that.
- Add the herbs and a good turn of salt and pepper.
- Let this bubble away.
- When the beans are ready add them to the tomato mix.
- Add enough of the bean 'water' to get the soup to the consistency you want it.
- Add the leafy greens and bring the soup back to a rumble.
- Serve with a swirl of olive oil—and some crusty bread.