Photography by Andrew Montgomery
4 tbsp olive oil
100g smoked bacon strips or lardons
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
100g dried white beans, such as butter beans, haricot or cannellini, soaked overnight
the leaves from 1 large fresh thyme sprig
200g really meaty pork sausages
1 small carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1 small leek, trimmed, cleaned and thickly sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
350g floury potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
300ml good chicken stock, or gammon stock (see page 114)
125g prepared curly kale leaves (i.e. minus any thick, tough stalks etc.), roughly chopped into wide strips
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat half the oil in a large saucepan. Add the bacon and fry for a minute or two until lightly golden. Stir in the onion, cover and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes until the onion is soft and very lightly browned. Drain the soaked beans and add them to the pan with the thyme leaves and 500ml cold water. Bring to a simmer, part-cover and cook gently for 45 minutes to 1 hour until tender. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Tip into a colander set over a bowl to collect the liquor. Measure the cooking liquor and make up to 300ml with water if necessary. Set both to one side.
2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a small frying pan. Add the sausages and fry them gently until nicely browned, then pop on a plate. Heat the remaining oil and butter in the cleaned out bean pan. Add the carrot, celery, leek and garlic, cover and cook gently for 5-6 minutes. Uncover, add the potatoes, a pinch of salt, some black pepper, the bean cooking liquor and stock. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are almost soft.
3. Meanwhile, slice the sausages across into 1cm thick slices. Uncover the soup, stir in the kale and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the sausages and cooked beans and simmer for another 2-3 minutes, until the kale is tender and the beans and sausages have heated through. Season to taste and serve.
Or you could try…
Making this soup with fresh British or Spanish chorizo sausage. It imparts a lovely spicy paprika flavour and red hue to the stew.
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