Here goes the story – or should that be pantomime – of the sinking egg and why there’s a spoon in my soup. There I thought I was being clever adding all of the butter beans to the soup to act as a support for the egg. Hah, that didn’t quite work out as planned, especially after cutting into the yolk with a knife…it was a case of, Thar she goes, mi ‘arties! Slowly but surely to sink without trace, like my soup had just discovered that it is, in fact, The Bermuda Triangle. And talking of disappearing acts, I really should know by now not to wait until late Saturday evening to buy in produce for the weekend. Simply was a case of, they’re behind you! No, they weren’t. Couldn’t get leeks nor a small cauliflower as that store had sold out. So, after racing back to the other store again, as they were closing soon, I did manage to buy a large cauliflower, something I’m loath to buy as it’s way too much for one. And a solitary leek. Butter Bean and Cauliflower Soup it is then. I suppose if there has to be any consolation for such a long, hard winter it’s those winter vegetables that are still the stars of the show. Regardless of the size of the cauliflower it was delicious. And if I had to be a critic – oh-no-I-won’t, oh-yes-I-will – I knew I should’ve gone with cubed pan-fried yellow turnip/swede/rutabaga rather than new potatoes as the flavour of swede would be so much better in this. Besides, their colour would match the yolk perfectly – if it’s still visible before the final curtain!
Butter Bean and Cauliflower Soup, with cubed pan-fried potatoes or swede (even better) and poached egg
FOR THE STOCK:
- 1 x onion, peeled, trimmed and cut into quarters
- 1 x green part leek, about 10cms or 4 ins, thoroughly washed
- 1 x stalk or stem of broccoli, trimmed and split in half lengthways. If a broccoli stalk isn’t available then use 1 large carrot, peeled, trimmed and roughly chopped and a couple stalks or ribs of celery, washed, trimmed and roughly chopped instead
- about 8 x inner pale green cauliflower leaves, washed (do not eat the leaves afterwards as they’re especially difficult to digest!)
- 2 x garlic cloves, trimmed, peeled and kept whole
- pinch x cayenne pepper OR the same of red pepper flakes
- 1 x dried bay leaf, split
- 500ml (1.05 US pt lqd) x water
- 1 x organic vegetable stock cube
FOR THE SOUP:
- 100g (3.52 oz) x dried butter beans, soaked in plenty of cold water overnight
- 350 – 400g (12.34 – 14.11 oz) x cauliflower florets, soaked in cold water
- seasoning, both freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
- up to 200g (7.05 oz) x new potatoes, scrubbed, any knobbly bits cut out and cut into small cubes or the equivalent of swede/yellow turnip/rutabaga (I would recommend the latter)
- 1 x medium free range (cage free) egg per person
- single/light or sour cream, to serve
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- Add the 9 numbered ingredients to a large heavy-based saucepan with a lid and put on electric heat No 4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to No 2 and simmer for at least 30 minutes. Allow to cool, find and retain the garlic cloves and the bay leaf pieces. Strain through a metal sieve into a suitable bowl, press on the veg with the back of a large serving spoon to extract as much of their liquid and nutrients as possible. If a stalk or stem of broccoli isn’t available go with 1 large carrot, peeled, trimmed and roughly chopped and a couple stalks or ribs of celery, washed, trimmed and roughly chopped.
- Soak the butter beans overnight in plenty of cold water or use canned. The next day add them to a large saucepan with plenty of cold water after rinsing them well. Bring to a boil on heat No 4 with a lid, reduce heat to No 2 and simmer until soft. Mine took approximately 30 minutes after simmering point.
- Put a large saucepan on heat No 4 with plenty of cold lightly salted water and add the cauliflower florets. Bring to a boil with lid on pan, reduce heat to No 2 and simmer for only 2 minutes. Drain through a metal colander into a suitable bowl, get the florets into cold running water to stop the cooking process, then shake them off excess water. Put saucepan back on heat No 3 with a little oil and add the florets. Allow enough time for them to get a pale golden on all sides, reducing the heat to prevent scorching. Mine took around 20 minutes. Otherwise, an even healthier method is to place them on a baking tray, preheat oven, spray them with oil and roast until lightly golden.
- Add about half of the florets and the garlic cloves to the stock and blend until almost smooth – I preferred this with a little texture to it. Return to the saucepan and add the cooked butter beans. Taste for any needed seasoning and reheat both the soup and the extra florets thoroughly before serving.
- Serve with pan-fried cubed potatoes or swede. For info on pan-frying cubed swede then click this link and read the third paragraph within Instructions: Parsnip soup 02.
- For a garnish it would be possible to go the route of North African countries where they fry small florets in about 2½cm or an inch of hot oil until nicely golden as part of Meze (I use a small saucepan without a handle and that’s put on one of the electric plates at the back of my hob/stovetop. That way it’s perfectly safe to fry the florets as there’s very little chance of any hot oil accidentally spilling). Well drained on kitchen paper or paper towels those would be delicious scattered over the top. So, too, would be bacon crumbs.
To poach an egg:
- Put a deep (as in depth not emotional) saucepan on heat No 4 with cold water about 3/4 of the way up. Bring to a rolling broil, reduce heat to No 3, swirl a metal spoon in the water once and carefully crack the egg into the water or crack the egg into a small and wide suitable bowl and let the egg slip in. It’ll sink. Once it starts to rise, and by the time it gets to the top it’ll be perfectly cooked.
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