Saturday, 5 November 2011

Leek and Butter Bean Soup with Caramelised Shallots and Bacon

It's bonfire night! I wish I were doing something a little more exciting than sitting at home making soup and working on my project, but it's due monday, and really, I actually like staying in the kitchen and keeping warm by my indoor bonfire, aka the bubbling pot of soup.

I was also planning to take part in this month's combined kitchen challenge (Random Recipes by Belleau Kitchen and No Croutons Required by Tinned Tomatoes) with this soup, but realised it was neither a random recipe from a cookbook because I bunged it up myself, nor was it vegetarian because of the bacon; bummer. Anyway, it was too good to not share, so here it is.

Leeks + Butter Beans =Winter Yum
Note: You can make this vegetarian by leaving out the bacon if you want, though in that case, maybe increase the butter ;)

Leek and Butter Bean Soup with Caramelised Shallots and Bacon
serves 3-4
1 large leek, white and light green parts only, sliced
1/2 cup of dried butter beans, soak for at least 6 hours
5 large shallots, sliced into rings
1-2 slices of bacon (from happy pigs), chopped up into bits
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 tbsp of grassfed butter
1 heaped tsp dijon mustard
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste (be generous!)

1. Add the soaked butter beans to a pot, bring to the boil, and let simmer for 1.5 hours or so till cooked and soft. You could skip this step if you're using canned beans, though dried and soaked is always cheaper and usually easier on the stomach.
2. Add bacon to a medium hot pan, saute till crisp and bacon fat oozes out. Drain and set aside.
3. Add the sliced shallots to the bacon fat and fry till golden brown and caramelised. Remove some for garnishing later and set aside.
4. Add the sliced leeks and garlic and mustard and saute till softened and fragrant.
5. Add the stock and cooked beans, bring to a boil and let simmer for 15 min or so.
6. Blend, adding more hot stock/bean cooking liquid if needed, till you get a smooth and creamy consistency. Taste and season (note bacon and mustard are also salty). Finally, stir in the 2 tbsp of butter.

I topped the soup with the crisped up bacon from earlier for a bit of salty texture, and finished it with sweet caramelised shallots, kind of inspired by the way a lot of food back home in Singapore is finished with a final drizzle of shallot oil or scatter of crispy shallots.

I love leeks for their mild onion-y sweetness and I often liken them to giant spring onions minus the bite. It's great thrown into whatever vegetable soup you have, or actually, it's great when you make chicken soup too. This came about because I was planning for dinner in the morning and wanted to make (roasted) leek and potato soup, but had no potatoes. So I raided my pantry for something to add some body to the soup, and saw the jar of butter beans, and thought "creamy hummus..soup?" Hmm. Anyway this soup is good- creamy and rich without being cloying, and full of good stuff for your body- so I would say it's one of those successful moments of desperation!

I'm submitting to the Spring a leek! recipe competition organised by lovethegarden, a brilliant website encouraging and giving people tips to grow their own vegetables. Fingers crossed.


  1. You have no idea how lucky you are to have access to butter beans. Trying to find those things in France is like convincing a Frenchman that cheddar is better than camembert. I used to eat them so much when I lived in England - since I moved here, it's strange the things you start to really miss. I've taken to having to order them online from a british online grocery store, lol :D

    Your soup looks great - so smooth and velvety! It's amazing the difference a good homemade stock can make to a soup/dish too, isn't it?!

  2. Very comforting soup. Looks smooth and creamy, would love to try some :)

  3. I'll try to find some butter beans.
    The name butter perks me up!

  4. well it looks divine and I adore leeks too so this would be a rather wonderful soup for me!... lovely x

  5. this soup sounds great!!!! and....surely it is random because you created it by randomly selecting what is in your cupboard!!!! the colour is gorgeous too!!! yum yum! Im making a soup today!!

  6. What a soup! I'll be trying this out for sure. Many thanks!

  7. This looks delicious. I'm definitely making this!

  8. Wow! I'm bookmarking this so I can make it for my boyfriend. It looks delicious!

  9. This look delicious, perfect for this lovely cool weather we're having! I love that caramelized onion toping - it's the crowning jewel!

  10. It sounds delicious and reminds me of a mixed potato soup I also serve with fried, crunchy bacon on top. If I make your soup one day it will be my first creamed bean soup :-)

  11. Charles, have you looked in organic shops? I have no idea if they have it (it's called haricot de Lima I think), but I think I have already seen it somewhere...
    Cheddar has no equivalent or even similar product in French cheese varieties, but I would have problems with choosing between good Stilton and Roquefort ;-)

  12. I love that every time I come and visit your blog I'm sure to find another amazing recipe, without fail!! Your recipes are so clean and fresh, I love it. Yet another ripper of a dish -- bravo! I'm such a fanboy of your blog hahahhaha...

  13. This souop sounds so yummy!!!

  14. Nice looking soup! A bowl of good soup and a crusty bread is all I need these days.

  15. charles: really?? wow I never knew, some things I really do take for granted. I do find normal white haricot beans an okay-ish substitute though!

    ann: thank you (:

    wendy: I know!! just the name sounds so.. buttery (:

    dom: thanks dom!

    victoria: hmm i wish it counted...

    pear tree log: thank you!

    stephen: thanks!

    shuqi: it's like normal white beans, but GIANT.

    kyleen: great, i'll love to hear how it goes!

    sara: great, i hope you and your boyfriend approves ;)

    farine: yah, i find anything with carmelised onions is bound to be better hehe.

    sissi: it was intended to be potato....annd about cheese. hmm. comte..? though it's much better. heh. sorry it's my favourite favourite cheese.

    Winston: haha you are so cute!

    manu: thanks!

    beyondkimchee: yes, soup, or porridge is all i want these days.