With melted Brie on sun-dried tomato ciabatta
Surrounded by food products within my local store I still couldn’t figure what I wanted to have for sups last night. When I get that vacuous – which can be often! – I invariably head to the vegetable section for inspiration. Really nice looking leeks, already trimmed, caught my eye. So, too, did their half price! Raced off to the legume aisle and spotted flageolet beans, something I haven’t had in an absolute age. At home, whilst making notes, I wondered if there was a soup like it online – why, yes. Most of those seemed to be garnished with either tarragon or chervil, the former I don’t have and I wouldn’t be able to find the latter. Anyway, that’s a pretty clear hint that this must be a French potage of some sort. Especially as flageolet seem to popular there. Well, I’ve never eaten them in France so I can’t say that with any certainty. And as I wasn’t really in the mood to faff around with establishing the French name I didn’t find a recipe that could be regarded as authentic. Doesn’t matter as I simply adored this combination. For those that haven’t heard of flageolet beans, they’re apparently the immature seed of haricot beans, although I’m not certain if that’s correct. They’re small, white to pale green and kidney shaped. I’ve read online that navy beans can be substituted instead. Just don’t quote me on that as I’ve never tasted them!
Serves 2 – 3
- olive oil and bacon fat
- 500g (17.63 oz) x trimmed weight of leeks, trimmed, sliced into discs and thoroughly rinsed
- 1 x dried bay leaf, split in two
- 2 x thin sprigs fresh thyme
- 500 – 700ml (1.05 – 1.47 US pt lqd) x water, start with 500ml initially (use more to thin the soup after blending to the consistency needed)
- 1 – 1½ x organic very low salt vegetable stock cubes (use 1 to begin with, then add more after blending soup to personal taste)
- 1 x broccoli stalk, trimmed and washed and cut in half lengthways
- 1 x 400g or 265g drained weight (14.11 oz or 9.34 oz drained) can flageolet beans, thoroughly rinsed
- 1 – 2 x medium garlic cloves, trimmed, peeled and sliced in half (only used to infuse olive oil, then discarded)
- squeeze of fresh lemon juice (2 or 3 quick squeezes is enough as less is more) – optional
- single/light cream, to serve
- fresh parsley fine chopped or snipped, to serve
- seasoning, sea salt and black pepper
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- Put the prepared leeks in a large heavy-based saucepan on electric heat No 3 (out of 6) with a good glug of oil, the fresh thyme and the bay leaf. Stir through occasionally for the first 5 minutes, put on a lid, reduce heat to No 2 and cook for about 15 minutes. Remove lid, and if there’s a lot of liquid up the heat again and stir often to prevent the leeks from scorching. I like to get them fairly dry and let them catch a little on base of pan. That way they get lightly caramelised.
- Pour in the lesser amount of water and add only 1 vegetable stock cube. Prep the broccoli stalk and add that as well. Up the heat to No 3 or 4 and add a lid to prevent too much evaporation. When near boiling point reduce heat to No 2, and stir through occasionally. Allow at least 15 – 20 minutes cooking time after reducing heat. After that time take off heat, remove the 2 pieces of bay leaf and the both pieces of broccoli stem, discarding the latter.
- When cool enough pour into a suitable liquidiser or blender and blend until smooth. Return to the saucepan with the bay leaf and taste for for any needed extra stock. If the soup needs to be thinner add the rest of the water, or to personal taste. I’ve used all of the water and 1½ stock cubes.
- Put a pan or skillet on heat No 2 with a little oil and add the garlic cloves. Allow several minutes for those to cook and infuse the oil. When garlic is soft and slightly coloured remove and discard. Rinse the canned flageolet beans thoroughly and get them into the pan and reduce heat to No 1. They are quite delicate so stir through gently and get them evenly coated. Squeeze over a little lemon if using, making sure there are no pips or pith.
- Once the soup is at the right consistency, and with the right levels of stock, add the flageolet beans and heat through before serving.
- Serve with single/light cream, sea salt and black pepper along with freshly chopped parsley, if using.
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