White Bean Soup with Anchovy Butter

This recipe from English food writer Simon Hopkinson uses two tins of white beans to create a delicious, creamy soup worthy of any restaurant menu.

I haven’t tried it, but he says that if you don’t have a can of white beans, such as Cannellini or butter beans, you can use chick peas. The soup is rich and creamy, so I’ve cut back a little on the butter and the cream.

50g butter
2 large onions, chopped
4 sticks celery, chopped
1 Tbs fresh rosemary leaves pulled off the stem
2 x 400g cans white beans (eg Cannellini)
750ml (3 cups) vegetable or chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
100-150ml cream (keep a little for garnish)
Anchovy Butter:
120g butter at room temperature
1 Tbs rosemary leaves pulled off the stem
1 clove garlic, crushed
50g anchovies, drained
Juice of half a small lemon
Pepper to taste
To Serve:
Cream
Black Pepper
Croutons

Heat butter in a large heavy-bottomed pan and cook onions and celery for 5-10 minutes, until soft and lightly coloured, stirring from time to time. Add rosemary and stir for a minute to release the aroma. Add beans, including the juice and stock and simmer for 30 mins. Cool then blend in a blender or food processor until smooth and put back into a clean pan. Add cream and season to taste. Not too much salt as the anchovy butter is salty.

While soup is cooking place all ingredients for the anchovy butter in a food processor and mix till smooth, stopping halfway to scrape down the sides. You can at this stage pass it through a fine sieve to remove any bits of rosemary, but I didn’t bother. Scrape into a small bowl or container.

Reheat soup and serve garnished with a blob of anchovy butter, extra cream, black pepper and some croutons.

Serves 4

To make croutons: cut a couple of slices of bread into cubes then mix them in a bowl with a little olive oil. Spread onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake at 180°C until golden and crunchy.

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