a deceptively gentle soup: leek and cannellini bean soup with chilli oil

leek and cannellini bean soup
with chilli oil
It was one of those deceptive spring days; sparkling with sunshine but with an icy coolness. I had baked a loaf of sourdough bread and as the kitchen was filled with enticing toasty yeast aromas, I was wondering what to make for lunch.

Last year I posted a recipe for a leek and butter bean soup. It is one of my favourites; a beautiful yellow-green colour and full of bright, zingy flavours. But to suit this day, I wanted a guileful, creamy soup packed with spring vegetables and a chilli bite.

I'm reading Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's Veg Every Day! and his leek and bean soup was perfect, winning me over with an excuse, as if I ever need one, to make up a batch of chilli oil.

Serves 4-6
Skill level: Easy

4 x medium leeks (white and pale green bits only, trim the dark green bits - great for the compost!)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
1 x bay leaf
3 x garlic cloves, finely chopped
1.3 litres vegetable stock (I prefer one of the powdered bouillons, such as Marigold)
2 x 400g tins of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed well
2-3 sprigs of fresh oregano, chopped (or 2 tsp dried)
a small bunch of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
chilli oil
200ml olive oil

4 x red chillies, deseeded and sliced
2 x sprigs of fresh thyme
1 x garlic clove, squashed

  1. Prepare the chilli oil by warming the olive oil in a small saucepan, with the chopped chilli, thyme and garlic. Heat very slowly until the olive oil begins to simmer. Continue to simmer until the chillies have softened, which can take about 20 minutes. Set aside and leave to cool.
  2. Clean the leeks well under running water.
  3. Half the leeks lengthways and slice thinly.
  4. Heat the olive oil and butter in a saucepan. Add the leeks and stir to coat. Add the thyme, bay leaf and little salt. Give another stir and cook gently for about 15 minutes. The leeks should sweat gently in the oil and butter. Add the garlic after 10 minutes, stir and continue for another 5 minutes.
  5. Add the stock and cannellini beans, oregano and half the parsley. Bring back to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. Check the seasoning.
  6. Remove the bay leaf and stir in the rest of the parsley.
  7. Serve with a trickle of chilli oil.


James Brewer said...

Chilli oil drizzled over a bowl of this must be amazing. Something I would not have thought of.

I love leeks in soup, especially when they are meltingly tender.

Shaheen said...

As a Welsh girl of coruse I like leeks, but the addition of chilli oil is calling to me.

I'm a fan of HFW and have yet to get this book.