The Musette: bean soup

My beloved regards soup as a starter though he will occasionally suffer it for lunch with a sandwich. So magine my surprise when he recently complained the mercury had fallen too much and demanded soup for his dinner. Yes, dinner!
Now, of course, I have plenty of soup in the freezer that I could quickly defrost, but that’s my soup. Vegan soup which he doesn’t necessarily enjoy. He claims that my spicy carrot and butternut squash is too spicy for him and my mushroom soup is too earthy. There wasn’t a lot in the fridge the day before our now once weekly shop. Nonetheless, I quickly whipped up something for him.

Ingredients (serves two and more)

  • 500g (1 lb) dried white cannellini beans (or canned beans, (see below)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 115g (4 oz) pancetta, diced
  • 2 large leeks (approx. 2 cups) chopped
  • 2 yellow onions (approx. 2 cups) chopped
  • 5 carrots (approx. 2 cups) scrubbed and diced
  • 4 ribs celery (approx. 2 cups) diced
  • 6 fat garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme minced
  • 2 ltr (8 -10 cups) chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 bay leaves
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese/croutons/freshly chopped parsley, to serve


1.At least 8 hours before, or the night before you make the soup, place the beans in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover the beans by 5cm (2 inches0.  Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.  Drain the beans, rinse under cold running water, and drain again.  Set aside.

2. In a large saucepan or casserole (Dutch oven) heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat, add the pancetta, and sauté for 8-10 minutes, until browned.  Add the leeks, onions, carrots, celery, garlic and thyme and cook over medium-low for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender.

3. Add the beans, the chicken stock, bay leaves, 1 tbsp sea salt, and 1 tsp freshly ground pepper and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 90 minutes or until the beans are tender.  Stir occasionally, scraping the bottom of the pot.

4. Discard the bay leaves, cover the pot, and allow the soup to sit off the heat for 15 minutes.  If the soup is too thick, add more stock.

5. Reheat slowly, ladle into soup bowls, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and freshly parsley, drizzle with olive oil and serve hot.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1.First, if you’re using canned beans you’ll need 180g (3 cups) white cannellini beans, drain the beans, reserving the liquid.  Place 1/3 (1 cup) beans and 1/2 (1/2 cup) liquid into a food processor and puree.  When ready to add the beans in the recipe, stir in the puree and add the remaining drained beans (discard the remaining liquid).

2. Second, initially use only 1 1/2lts (6 cups) chicken stock.

3. Third, simmer the soup for 45 minutes, rather than 90 minutes.

4. When reheating the following day, add some filtered water and seasoning to taste. To freshen up the soup you could add some small pasta like orzo and/or frozen spinach.

5. Don’t worry too much about exact quantities, we’re cooking rather than baking. If you don’t have some of the ingredients, substitute. For example, if you don’t have pancetta, use bacon. Or, for a spicier treat, use chorizo. You could substitute the beans with another type or even chickpeas or lentils.

6. I often chuck in a parmesan cheese rind from my cache in the freezer while making the soup for some extra umami flavour.

Sculpture Saturday #33

Last week’s sculpture #32 was by Picasso, while this week’s is of Picasso by Gabriël Sterk. It’s an oversized bronze cast of his head which has been installed in Place des Patriotes, Mougins, standing 2.4m (8 ft) high and weighing roughly 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds).

Pablo Picasso first visited Mougins in 1936 and later, from 1961 to 1973, he lived and worked in this hilltop town.  During this period, Piccaso and his wife Jacqueline lived at the nearby Le Mas Notre-Dame-de-Vie.

Sterk (1942 – ) an imaginative artist,  was fortunate to spend his formative years in the beautiful Dutch Château Kasteel de Haar near Breukelen. A man of exceptional energy,  he decided early on that if he was to have his sculpture cast in bronze, he would do much of the work himself. So he’s a Renaissance man, a sculptor who is his own founder.

This challenge is kindly hosted by Susan Kelly over at Ruined for Life: Phoenix Edition.

Share a photo of a statue or sculpture – go on, give it a go, you know you want to!