Whilst there really isn’t much we can do about the weather or the darkness there are lots of things we can do to make ourselves feel good.
One of the things I love about this time of year is soup - ok and cake (but not necessarily in the same mouthful). Soup is something that makes me feel happy. It’s warming, nutritious and filling and will warm you to your bones on these dark, windy days. (I was trying to think of a word that combines snug and smug which is exactly how I feel when I sit in my warm kitchen, listening to the wind howling outside cradling my hot bowl of soup. Goodness we are SO lucky compared to so many. SMNUGLY?)
Anyway I’d like to introduce you to a recipe for a beany pasta soup which, whilst not the most glamorous of lookers, does everything above. Plus it’s absolutely delicious. It’s easy to make, freezes well, and can easily be made vegan and GF. I expect that you’ll probably have most of the ingredients already so if you can face going out to the shops or are having a frugal January then this is definitely one for you.
BEAN & PASTA SOUP
This is a hearty soup that is a meal rather than a first course.
To keep it vegan, skip the parmesan, and to make it GF, use a gluten free pasta.
1 carrot, diced
3 x onions, diced
4 x garlic cloves, chopped finely
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp chilli flakes
A large glass of white wine (optional)
300 ml veg stock (or if not veggie use chicken/turkey stock)
a hunk of parmesan rind (optional)
2 bay leaves
2 x 400g tins (or 700g jar) of beans - think borlotti, haricot or cannellini.
300g tiny pasta (orzo, fregola, macaroni)
100g chopped, washed leafy greens, such as kale, spinach or cabbage
50g grated parmesan and extra virgin olive oil to top
In a LARGE heavy bottomed pot, over a medium high heat, fry the carrot, onion and garlic in the olive oil and sea salt. Cook for at least 20 minutes, giving it the occasional stir, until soft and starting to caramelise at the edges.
Add the tomato puree and chilli flakes and cook for another 5 minutes, mixing so it comes together.
Add the white wine/water, stirring to loosen any bits that have stuck to the bottom. Then add the stock, parmesan rind (if using), bay leaves and beans.
Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes, until the liquid has reduced by a third, stirring whenever you remember.
Add the pasta and combine There should be enough liquid to just cover the pasta, if not, add a little boiling water from the kettle.
Cook for another 10 minutes, then just before serving, stir in the greens until they are wilted. You can add more water to get the soup to your preferred consistency I like it to be quite chunky. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or chilli flakes if necessary.
Serve a big bowl topped with grated parmesan, a drizzle of good olive oil and a grind or two of black pepper.
Sit back and feel SMNUGLY!!