feeling fresh(er)

23 Mar

If you’ve been so kind to read my posts across the last 5 days, you’ll have probably realised I haven’t been the bastion of healthy living.. large doses of late nights, red meat and food that could make a calorie counter cry.. in fact at one point during the week I’m pretty certain there had been more meals that had included a variation on fried potato than not.

When this scenario arises, I make a grab for what I class as my “want to eat something vegetable based & healthy, but its got to be easy” recipe book, (shorthand for I’m tired and generally hungover, and picking leaves off 5 different bunches of herb isn’t going to happen I’m afraid Mr Ottolenghi).

Nearly nine times out of ten the book of choice is usually our foppish friend from Dorset, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingsall and his book “River Cottage Veg Everyday”

The staple in the His and Hers repertoire from this collection is the leek and cannellini bean soup with chilli oil.

For me its the perfect soup, with a light base stock and plenty of flat leaf parsley, it gives the whole dish a really fresh feel. Best of all its really quick to make, and for all those thrifty chefs out there it freezes really well, perfect for tackling the onset of a bout of gout at a later date.

Here’s the recipe, and with only a month or so of the British Leek season left, now’s the perfect time to try it.. enjoy!

Leek and Cannellini Bean Soup with Chilli Oil

(The chilli oil takes a little extra time, but it really makes the soup and keeps well)

Serves 4-6

4 x medium leeks (white and pale green bits only)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
1 x bay leaf
3 x garlic cloves, finely chopped
1.3 litres vegetable stock
2 x 400g tins of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed well
2-3 sprigs of fresh oregano, chopped (or 2 tsp dried)
Bunch of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chilli oil

200ml olive oil
4 x red chillies, deseeded and sliced
2 x sprigs of fresh thyme
1 x garlic clove, squashed

How to:

  1. For the chilli oil warm the olive oil in a small saucepan, adding the chopped chilli, thyme and garlic. Heat on a really low heat until the olive oil begins to simmer. Keep on a really low simmer until the chillies have softened, about 20 minutes. Set aside and leave to cool.
  2. Wash and clean leeks well under running water then half lengthways and slice thinly.
  3. Heat the olive oil and butter on a med/low heat. Add leeks and stir. Add thyme and bay leaf, stir and cook gently for about 15 minutes. basically gently softening and sweating the leeks in the oil and butter. Add the garlic, stir and leave for another one or two mins.
  4. Next add the stock cannellini beans, oregano and half the parsley. Bring it to the boil and then gently simmer for 20 minutes. Check salt & pepper.
  5. Remove the bay leaf and stir in the rest of the parsley.
  6. Serve with a trickle of chilli oil.

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