Butter Bean Soup, with sage, grilled smoked bacon bits and Grana Padano cheese

Butter Bean Soup, with sage, grilled smoked bacon bits and Grana Padano cheese

When I made this Butter Bean Soup for a vegan friend of mine, several years ago, we were both pleasantly surprised at how well the flavours of sage and butter beans go together. I’d read in a book (I thinks it’s this one) called Healing Foods by Miriam Polunin, that sage helps to beef-up the flavour of butter beans. And it sure does. Oh, and of course I didn’t serve the cheese and chorizo side, then! Home-made falafel, and other goodies, were the main course.

Next time I make this I’m going to swap the leeks with celery instead. Too many Aliums in one recipe, perhaps. And what I might do is cut the celery stalks in half, cook as to the instructions below, remove and discard them before blending the soup. That way I should avoid the possibility of them being a little stringy, but, importantly have their flavour. Will update in due course.

Update: instead of using just celery I used the ingredients listed below. The only difference was having to rub the puréed soup through a fine wire sieve. Especially as I’d used the outer stalks of celery, which can be a little tough and stringy. The only ingredient I reduced was the stock, keeping that to 1½ cubes as I wanted to have this with smoked streaky bacon. With the addition of Gran Padano cheese this combination of flavours was really quite delicious.

Butter Bean Soup, with sage, grilled smoked bacon bits and Grana Padano cheese


  • 200g (7 oz) dried butter beans, cooked to the instructions on the pack
  • oil
  • 200g (7 oz) onion, peeled and chopped
  • 100g (3.5 oz) leeks, sliced and washed OR 100g (3.5 oz) celery, washed and cut in half
  • 3 – 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 x teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 500 – 700ml (1.057 – 1.47936 pt US Liq) x cold water (start with the lesser amount and add more to personal taste)
  • 1½ – 2 x organic vegetable stock cubes (start with 1 and add more to personal taste)
  • 1 x dried bay leaf
  • 2 – 3 pinches x dried sage
  • single cream – optional
  • Grana Padano cheese or Parmesan – to serve
  • smoked bacon – grilled and broken into pieces when cool enough to handle

Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.


  • Soak the beans overnight, rinse and cook to the instructions on the pack.
  • Prep the onions and add them to a large heavy-based saucepan with enough oil to coat its base. Put on electric heat No 2 (out of 6) for 15 minutes, stirring through the occasional time. When the leeks/celery are ready add them to the same pan. Then add the garlic. Allow the ingredients to catch a little on the base of pan, taking care not to burn them.
  • When onion mixture is nicely golden simply pour in the water, add the stock cubes and bay leaf. Put on heat No 4 and bring to a boil. Then simmer for 10 – 15 minutes on heat No 2.
  • Remove bay leaf, liquidise the soup, then rub through a fine wire sieve into the same saucepan, with the bay leaf.
  • Add the cooked and drained butter beans to the soup, bring to near boiling point, take off heat and sprinkle over the sage. Less is more at this point. Allow to infuse before tasting. Add seasoning at this stage, too. And add another pinch of sage to personal taste.

All photographs within (Todas las fotografías dentro de) Feed the Piglet:
All rights reserved (© Todos los derechos reservados) – Copyright © Johnny H Hepburn

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