Easy Soup for Chilly Spring Days – White Bean and Cauliflower.
Throughout the winter I generally have a bowl of soup in the fridge. It’s usually made with a concoction of leftover cheese, vegetables and some good stock – this broccoli, stilton and celery soup is a good example. If all else fails I resort to a spicy tomato and lentil soup that I make with a few red lentils, some chilli, paprika and onion together with a tin of tomatoes. It’s hearty and satisfying, really cheap to make and there’s nothing on the ingredient list that I have to leave the house for. Right now though, tins of tomato have become like gold dust and it’s impossible to find red lentils in the shops. Lurking in my larder was a tub of dried white beans I use to make homemade baked beans with and in the bottom of the fridge there was a cauliflower.
Cooked white beans make a delicious, silky puree that you can enjoy with meat in much the same way as mashed potatoes. And, just like adding potato to a soup, beans will break down and thicken the soup, imparting a creaminess without the addition of any dairy. Mine were Navy beans, one of the smaller varieties and perfect for adding to soup. But, to be honest, most of the white beans you’ll find in the shops – cannellini beans, baby lima beans or Great Northern beans will work in much the same way. Beans are very nutritious. One cup of cooked Navy Beans has around 255 calories, 19 grams of fibre and 15 grams of protein together with vitamins B1 and B9, Manganese, Thiamine, Magnesium and Iron. Add in some fresh vegetables in the form of onions and cauliflower and you have a bowl of food for lunch that should keep you feeling good all day together with providing plenty of nutrients. I’ve topped my soup with creme fraiche and crumbled chorizo, but for the vegetarians and vegans you really don’t need to – I’d suggest caramelised onions would make a great alternative or crunchy roasted chopped hazelnuts. This recipe for white bean and cauliflower soup is naturally gluten-free too.
I’ve used chicken stock made from a leftover roast chicken carcass but you can make this soup with a veggie stock cube or even with water. It’s light enough to work well even if the sun is shining enough to eat al-fresco, but hearty enough to warm you up on a chilly spring day.
You’ll need 100g of dried white beans, a little olive oil, 300-500g of cauliflower, an onion and a spoonful or two of creme fraiche and a few slices of chorizo to garnish. I’ve made my soup in a pressure cooker, but if you don’t have one then please soak the beans overnight.
Here’s how to make your own soup.
White bean and cauliflower soup with chorizo
- Pressure cooker
- 100 g Dried White Beans plus water to reconstitute
- 750 ml Stock or Water I used fresh chicken stock
- 1 medium Onion
- 400 g Cauliflower
- 4 slices Chorizo
- Creme Fraiche
- Salt and Pepper
- If you do not have a pressure cooker, put the dried beans in a large jug or bowl and add plenty of cold water. Leave to soak for 12 hours. Then drain and place in a large saucepan or stockpot. Fill with fresh water and bring to the boil. Cook for 30 minutes or so until the beans are tender
- If you have a pressure cooker, put the dried beans in the cooker, add plenty of water and cook at high pressure for 30 minutes.
- Peel and chop the onion, then soften in oil over a moderate heat for at least 8 minutes.
- Break the cauliflower into florets. Chop the stem finely.
- Drain the beans and return to the pressure cooker or into a large stockpot.
- Add the onion, cauliflower, stock and season well with salt and pepper
- If you are using a pressure cooker, cook for 20 minutes at medium pressure
- If you are using a stockpot, bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until the cauliflower and beans are very tender
- Meanwhile, fry the chorizo slices until crispy and drain on kitchen paper
- Once the soup is cooked, blend with a stick blender and then taste and adjust seasoning as necessary
- Serve piping hot with the chorizo crumble and a dollop of creme fraiche (or alternative garnish)