Leek, Lardons and Butter Bean Soup

Yet again, on another chilly morning, I’m scrounging in the fridge vegetable drawers and store cupboard for something to turn into soup. This combo is a winner, leeks and onion softened with scraps of bacon thickened with creamy butter beans and prettied up with chopped parsley. It reheats perfectly but add parsley at the last moment to keep the vibrant look and flavour. NB: the finest butter beans (judiones) that I’ve come across – really big and creamy – are the Brindisa Navarrico brand (stocked by discerning food stores and available from Ocado). They come in 700g jars and are worth the extra price; their juice quite delicious and not to be wasted, unlike the liquor most tinned beans come in.

Serves 2 (with seconds)
Prep: 15 min
Cook: 40 min

1 onion
knob of butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 trimmed leeks, approx 300g
100g smoked lardons
1 litre chicken stock or
2 chicken or vegetable stock cubes
1 litre boiling water
400g jar or tin of butter beans
squeeze lemon
handful flat leaf parsley

Halve, peel and very finely chop the onion. Melt the butter in the olive oil in a spacious, lidded pan over a medium-low heat and stir in the onion. Add a generous pinch of salt (I find this helps the onion to soften, drawing out the liquid) and cook, stirring occasionally while you prepare the leeks. Slice the leek in 1cm rounds, halving the leek lengthways first if very thick. Agitate in a bowl of water, drain and shake dry. If making up stock, do that now with boiling water from the kettle. Stir the lardons into the onion and cook, uncovered, stirring as the fat runs and the bacon cooks. After a few minutes, stir in the leeks and cover the pan. Cook, stirring a few times, for about 10 minutes until the leeks are beginning to soften. Sift the flour over the top, stir vigorously and add the stock. Increase the heat, stirring as the soup comes up to the boil, continuing to stir to ensure the flour is smoothly integrated. Establish a steady simmer and cook, semi-covered, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes until leeks are very tender. Add beans, heat through, then season to taste with salt and lemon. Stir in chopped flat leaf parsley just before serving.