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
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 cups of homemade vegetable/chicken stock
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!