Butter Bean and Cauliflower Soup, with cubed pan-fried potatoes or swede

Butter Bean and Cauliflower Soup, with cubed pan-fried potatoes or swede (even better) and poached egg

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



  1. 1 x onion, peeled, trimmed and cut into quarters
  2. 1 x green part leek, about 10cms or 4 ins, thoroughly washed
  3. 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
  4. about 8 x inner pale green cauliflower leaves, washed (do not eat the leaves afterwards as they’re especially difficult to digest!)
  5. 2 x garlic cloves, trimmed, peeled and kept whole
  6. pinch x cayenne pepper OR the same of red pepper flakes
  7. 1 x dried bay leaf, split
  8. 500ml (1.05 US pt lqd) x water
  9. 1 x organic vegetable stock cube


  • 100g (3.52 oz) x dried butter beans, soaked in plenty of cold water overnight
  • oil
  • 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.

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


    • Oh, yes! Bacon crumbs would work so well with this (although I’ve cut right back on processed meats). And, if you can, try this with swede or yellow turnip. I’m not sure what it’s called in Australia. In most parts of the UK it’s called turnip.


  1. I understand the need to cut back on processed meats but that should never include crumbling some good bacon on top of great soups 🙂 🙂 This most definitely would be good with turnips instead of potatoes – I really like turnips 🙂


    • – Oh, love that you call them turnips! In N. Ireland, Scotland and parts of Northern England they’re called…turnips. It’s only in the South that they’re called swede. As they also sell small white turnip here with either green, red or purple tops. Not nearly so nice.
      – Totally agree with the bacon! Scattered on top would take this soup to another level.


  2. Lovely, especially with the sumptuously soft egg and comfort of butterbeans. I’m a big neep fan, more so than potatoes so will take your recommendation. I’ve just defrosted the last of my cauliflower from my over stuffed freezer, so going to give this a try, thanks.


    • So am I. Kicking myself for not going with. However, there were only large turnips available and they’re definitely not suitable to pan-fry as they’re too dense. I can only use small or small-medium. Otherwise the texture just isn’t right. Hope the soup turns out OK. And you may have noticed pantryobsession’s comment on scattering bacon crumbs on top. Oh, yes!


  3. Did you know: The Turnip comes in many shapes and sizes, but the most common varieties have creamy white skin with shades of purple, reddish pink, or green. If you choose yellow, chances are you’re holding a rutabaga–a cousin to the turnip…I didn’t know that about the yellow!


  4. The soup sounds great, but I’d like to extend my sympathies regarding the egg–everyone photographing food ultimately has this moment. Everything set up, ready to rip, then you garnish with whatever floating dainty is germane and ka-bloop! It’s gone. I now do a test run on presentations like this, just to avoid the amusing-in-retrospect surprises. Ken


    • Of course I could’ve gone with a thicker soup. Yet, I’m never overly keen on thick soups for my lunch. So, I took the risk of the egg being too heavy. Initially it wasn’t as I did prop okay with the butter beans. Then, after cutting into that runny yolk things went downhill, fast. I do realise there are props to be bought to prevent that from happening. I don’t have access to a large photographic store that would sell them. There seem to be two things I dread: plating spaghetti and poaching eggs!


  5. This sounds really good (as do all of your soups, actually), and I just love how you get those eggs poached to perfection. I just chucked out a whole large cauliflower (which I didn’t want to buy in the first place, because as you said it’s too much for one; but the mini ones we get are only about 2 mouthfuls after cooking…). Before I could make up my mind what I wanted to do with that cauliflower it was starting to go off…


    • – Yes, I do tend to avoid buying large caulis, Savoy cabbage and that sort of thing as invariably some of it will go off and be chucked. Sometimes I do blanch certain veg as they do store better. Green beans for one.
      – I dread poaching eggs for photos! This time I was so pleased with the perfect runny yolk and shape. Shame it sank! Which left some of the soup clinging just above the body of the soup itself, looking slightly messy. Tasted great, though.


    • Wouldn’t exactly call myself brave, except in using so many daft puns in one post! Although, I think most of those are lost for those readers outside of the UK, or that don’t know exactly what a panto is.


  6. This sounds and looks delicious, mmmm! Love that gorgeous orange yolk peeking out on top of the soup. I also notice that you use parts of veggies that many people usually discard; I think that’s great! While I do use the inside part of broccoli stalks, I have never thought to use the cauliflower leaves to flavor a stock! Nice. I will definitely do that next time around. And bacon, definitely 🙂

    I just made a broccoli soup yesterday, and instead of thickening with flour and making a rue, I use pureed cooked cauliflower blended with a bit of cream and a little cream cheese. Makes for a great consistency! This is definitely still a prime time of year for soups while we’re waiting for it to decide to warm up and be a proper Spring!


    • – Yes, I happen to like the inside of the broccoli stalk as well. Besides, their odd circular shapes can look good on the plate. With the cauliflower leaves it’s only possible to use the very inner leaves as all of them are inedible. I only ever use the pale smaller leaves, and only a few of those. And it’s very seldom I bother to make a roux, even for gravies, as I prefer certain soups thin – with a glug of single/light cream to gain that luxurious texture! Cooked potatoes mashed in can be great as well as I’m eating by myself so I can slurp as much as I want to 🙂
      – Aaah, Sunday looks like it might be spring-like outside at last. Let’s hope so!


  7. I love butter beans, though I keep being reminded of the US boxer called Butterbean every time I eat or think about these types of beans. Never had it in a soup so I’m curious to try this.


    • Love butter beans in soups and stews. They’re also really good with sage, like my only other butter bean soup on here. It’s very seldom I can buy fresh sage. As for dried it’s okay for flavour but I’m not keen on the texture, especially in soup. If you can then do try this with cubed swede/rutabaga rather than new potatoes. The latter were a tad bland in this.


  8. Pingback: Vegan Bacon-flavoured Butter Bean Soup (yes, really!) « Jali Henry Personal Trainer

  9. Pingback: Vegan Bacon-flavoured Butter Bean Soup Recipe (yes, really!) | Jali Henry Personal Trainer

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