I always enjoy making soup. At times this can involve a complex list of ingredients along with considerable time and effort. But more often than not it’s an extremely undemanding process, requiring very little in the way of … well, anything very much. There is something particularly pleasing about being able to throw a few vegetables into a pan with some flavoured water, a touch of seasoning and surprisingly little else, and being able to create something that’s flavourful, comforting, warming and wonderful. And not only can these simple soups be absolutely delicious, they can also be very healthy – full of micronutrients, high in fibre and low in fat.
There are some soups – old favourites like celery & sweet potato, squash & carrot, leek & potato – that I make repeatedly, preparing large quantities so that I’ve got enough to freeze a few portions as well. Others are created more spontaneously, using ingredients that just happen to be in my fridge, and although I always mean to write the ‘recipe’ down I usually don’t bother and am (sadly) never able to re-create them.
I also find new recipes – like this one – in books and magazines, and look forward to having an opportunity to make them. This one really is very quick and easy to prepare, although of course like most soup it does benefit from being made in advance if at all possible. The list of ingredients is modest but interesting, and the basic combination of carrot and ginger is just glorious. Butter beans (which are large lima beans) are similar to broad beans (fava beans), and work well with strong flavours like garlic as well as the spices used here. Along with other pulses, beans make an excellent addition to soup, making them more substantial and filling, as well as providing a good source of fibre. Serve with some crusty bread for a warming lunch or light supper for two.
Recipe: Spicy Butter Bean Soup
2 onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
A small chunk of ginger, grated
1 tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, grated
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
750ml vegetable stock
2 x 400g (14 oz) tins butter beans
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
Cook the onions, garlic and ginger over a medium low heat until softened. Add the carrot and spices and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the vegetable stock and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the butter beans and cook for a further 10 minutes.
Using a hand blender, roughly blend the soup leaving a coarse texture. (Alternatively, ladle half the soup into a blender or food processor and whizz until smooth. Pour back into the pan with the rest of the soup). Gently reheat before serving, and sprinkle with parsley (optional).
Adapted from: Janine Ratcliffe, in Olive magazine