Monday, January 14, 2008

14.01.08: Cauliflower, White Bean & Fennel

As it appears in the Soup Bible, this recipe utilises canned flageolet beans and Oli's are currently offering three cans of Sofra brand beans for a quid, but for some perverse reason I chose to buy a 2kg bag of 'white beans from Argentina' (cannelli beans, I guess), which are bigger, and to soak the lot overnight. When combined with five heads of cauliflower, this made a lot of soup and, although I counted out 21 bowls, litres of the stuff was left over.

First, I put the beans on to boil for half an hour. I diced a bulb of fennel and into the mirepoix with all the cloves of a head of garlic, squashed and peeled; one very large onion, roughly chopped; and about half a head of celery. No carrot. To the cooked mirepoix, I added a generous sprinkling - two dessert spoons, lets say - of fennel seed. I trimmed off the cauliflower florets and saved then for later, diced the stems and added them to the soup pot. Added two litres of Marigold bouillon. Then added two thirds of the cooked beans and two litres more Marigold and simmered for about fifteen minutes.

I left the cooked soup to stand while I went to collect my laundry (from the launderette on Kennington Lane, where the New Year has brought dramatic prices rises, but that's another story). When I came back, I got Brenda to give it a whizz. When the soup was well blended, I added the cauliflower florets and another couple of litres of bouillon (six in total), returned it to the heat and cooked for a further ten minutes. Then I gave the soup another quick whizz - enough to break up the florets, but not liquidise them - and added the remaining beans to finish the soup, which I served with a sprinkle of paprika.

Those who tried it were appreciative and there were some nice synchronicities today. First, I was talking to Iaxte, who regularly comes in with little Irene, about looking for a high chair on Freecycle and the folks sitting at the round table in the corner piped up to say they had a couple of high chairs to give us!

Later, a woman came in who told me that she'd last lived on the Pullens 16 years ago but had just moved in to Oyster Court, the new development across the road from the Pullens Centre. While she was telling me this, Crispin came in and recognised her as his former upstairs (or downstairs) neighbour. But he's long since sold the drum kit;-)

She wrote in the log bok, 'lovely soup and stimulating gossip'. He wrote, 'Pukka soup - very nice, Russell. Keep up the good work'. Cheers, m8. I've frozen what's left, so it won't go to waste.

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