Yesterday, on the bank holiday after Boxing Day, I took Hector to Le Pain Quotidien. I reflected on my Christmas excess and contemplated a healthier 2011, over a pot of coffee and 2 slices of toast, spread liberally with butter and strawberry jam. Meanwhile, Jemma was taking a more practical approach by setting out on a 4 mile run - her first proper run since she stopped running over six months ago, while pregnant with Hector.
We are both planning to run a marathon in June. It is set in the Lewa Wildlife Reserve in Northern Kenya, so it will be hot, dry and at altitude. With only 128 runners last year, we are likely to be at the back of the pack. We have almost six months to train, but we have both decided that it will be a lot easier if we can shed a few kilograms!
I wanted to make a soup that would be low in fat but nourishing and filling. I also wanted one that was simple and quick to make. I had some ingredients that I thought would go well together: potatoes, garlic, cannellini beans and fresh herbs. The Spanish make garlic soup, thickened with potatoes or bread. I decided that thyme would go well with garlic and potatoes and that rosemary would go well with the cannellini beans, which are more of an Italian ingredient. For convenience, I put the garlic straight into a cast iron pot that could be left in the oven - less likely to burn if I had to attend to Hector and less washing up.
Potato and cannellini bean soup, with garlic, rosemary and thyme
Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
Cost: £0.50 per portion
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled
Pinch each of salt and mixed herbs
1 tin of cannelini beans
600ml of water (about 2 tinfuls)
1 stock cube (chicken or vegetable)
2-3 sprigs of rosemary
2-3 sprigs of thyme
|Stages 2 and 3|
|Stages 4 and 5|
1. Preheat the oven to 170 celsius.
2. Drizzle the bottom of the pot with olive oil and season it with a few twists of salt and a large pinch of mixed herbs.
3. Add 5 peeled cloves of garlic and one chopped onion and put it in the oven for 10 minutes.
4. While the garlic is softening (both in texture and taste), peel 350g of potatoes and chop them up into smaller chunks.
5. Make a bouquet garni of rosemary and thyme by chopping the sprigs and tying them inside a small bag of muslin (to save fishing them out at the end).
6. Add the potatoes, bouquet garni, tin of cannellini beans, 2 tinfuls of water and a stock cube to the pan.
7. Cover with a lid and cook in the oven for an hour.
8. Blend with a handheld blender, season with salt and white pepper.
9. Garnish with olive oil and paprika.