This is a recipe I first came across in Tuscany, though I have had similar hearty soups in Rome and Sicily. Nonetheless, it is redolent of all that is fabulous about the Mediterranean and its warmth permeates every mouthful. Close your eyes and you will be sitting by the sea sensing the magic of the Med through every pore.
And it is, as ever, so simple. Why oh why does anyone ever contemplate buying a tinned soup? I am at a loss for an answer. Speed? Cost? Certainly not flavour.
Anyway, here we go. Do this one. Please.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 celery stick chopped
1 onion chopped
1 large carrot chopped
1 litre of chicken or veg stock
400 gm can of cannellini beans drained
400 gm can of borlotti beans drained
Sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary
1 bay leaf
8 rashers of prosciutto – or you could, at a pinch, use streaky smoked bacon
4 good Sicilian sausages – or, frankly, any top quality bangers with flavour
Heat the oil in a large casserole pan or stock pot. Add the vegetables and a little rock salt and black pepper. Cook gently for 10 minutes. Add the stock, beans, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. Bring to the boil and simmer for another ten minutes.
Lift out the herbs with a slotted spoon. Bin. Use a stick blender and whizz to a rough chunky but creamy texture.
Cook the sausages how ever which way you fancy – grilling possibly best for this recipe. Allow to cool a tad, then slice each sausage into 4 or 5 pieces.
Add to the soup, and pan fry gently the prosciutto until crispy. Add a rasher or two to each bowl. Serve this dish of the Gods with crusty bread and a good hearty glass of pinotage or other suitable firm red. The sausages are not necessary but make it a real tummy rumbler of a meal.
Enjoy with or without the sausage…but be bold.