The little things bring it: Cannellini Bean and Bacon Soup

Serendipity. Sometimes the little things bring it. Rocking up to my local Supervalu to restock after two weeks holidays and finding a new line of Batchelors tinned beans* give me a little blasht of serendipity. You take it where you can get it, right?

I’m all for change but, gosh darn it, I want to be the one making the changes! When my local Superquinn switched to Supervalu I saw a few of my favourite products disappear off the shelves. Admittedly there are some new or expanded ranges but I can no more buy Doves Farm Yeast, for example. I have to schlep all the way to The Hopsack in Rathmines to pick it up. I use this nearly everyday. The range of De Cecco pastas has shrunk to insignificant – no more fusilli or lasagne sheets – but thankfully The Best of Italy in Dunville Avenue, close to the ancestral home, seems to be the importer for this brand and so stocks a dazzling range of my favourite pasta. I’m easily dazzled, folks.

Back to the beans. We were just back from our holidays. I was still in my one pot cooking mode after 2 weeks of Trangia creativity and rooting around my “Get into my mouth” Pinterest board when I came across a link to this beautiful photograph by Rachel Hathaway with accompanying instructions which fitted my mood: comforting, warm (it’s gotten colder), and easy to prepare ahead. I’ve made it three times since and I think I have it now. This is also a hit with the Nippers.

Cannelini Bean and Bacon Soup

Ingredients for Cannelini Bean and Bacon Soup
Ingredients for Cannelini Bean and Bacon Soup

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
125g smoked bacon lardons (I use the Dulano lardons from Lidl, always have a stock of them in the freezer)
1large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
1/2 tbsp Selection chopped fresh herbs, chopped (I use sage and rosemary which taste great with beans and bacon and grow well all year round in Ireland. Do it!)
1tbsp tomato puree
2 cans (400g) canellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 litre chicken stock
1 Parmesan rind (optional)
  1. Heat the oil in your favourite soup pot and, once hot, add the bacon.
  2. Once it’s beginning to render a little add the onion and cook until soft.
  3. Add the garlic and soften but don’t burn and lastly add the carrots and cook for about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the drained and rinsed beans, tomato puree and the herbs.
  5. Cook, stirring, until all the ingredients are evenly mixed.
  6. Lastly add the stock (home made or sure, feck it, from a good quality cube. I like Kallo Just Bouillon Stock Cubes which are low in sodium.)
  7. If you are using the Parmesan rind, add now.
  8. Bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes.
  9. Remove Parmesan rind and discard
  10. You can if you like blend some of the soup but I didn’t think it needed it. Some of the cannelini beans will soften into a lovely mush.
  11. Serve with delicious crusty bread (both the aformentioned Hopsack and Best of Italy stock lovely sourdoughs.)
Cannelin Bean and Bacon Soup
Cannellini Bean and Bacon Soup

A couple of notes:

You can, of course, make this with fresh beans correctly prepared.
You may find that smoked bacon makes your soup too salty so do try with an unsmoked variety i.e. chop up some traditional rather than smoked rashers.
Adding a Parmesan rind is a soup tip I got from the Corkonian and I save all my rinds in the freezer for this very purpose. It brings an extra depth to the flavour. Try it!
I’ve tried this recipe with black eyed beans and while this will render the kitchen table very tuneful the cannellini beans really are a must.
* So new, in fact, that they don’t even feature on their own website. You heard it hear first!

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