Tomato and white bean soup.
This recipe makes the most out of just a handful of kitchen cupboard ingredients, like tinned white beans, a tin of tomatoes and a full head of garlic. The soup owes its surprisingly rich and complex flavour to how the garlic is cooked: by smashing the cloves, you end up with different sizes and pieces of garlic.
These cook irregularly, which means you’ll taste the full range of garlic’s flavours, from sweet and nutty to almost a little spicy. Simmer the lightly browned garlic with white beans and tomatoes, then blend, and you have a creamy, cosy soup that’s endlessly adaptable: add aromatics to the simmering pot or make it spicy with harissa, smoked paprika or chipotle. Top with pesto, croutons, cheese, cooked grains, greens or a fried egg.
10 garlic cloves
60ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 (400g) tins white beans, such as cannellini, including their liquid
1 (800g) tin chopped tomatoes
240ml stock or water, plus more as needed
Salt and black pepper
Double cream, for serving
1. Peel the garlic, then smash the cloves using a meat pounder or the bottom of a heavy frying pan until wispy and flat.
2. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the olive oil, then add the crushed garlic, and cook, smashing with the back of a wooden spoon and stirring occasionally, until golden brown and beginning to stick to the bottom of the pan, 3 to 5 minutes.
3. Add the white beans and their liquid, crushed tomatoes, stock or water, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then partly cover, reduce heat, and let simmer until thickened and fragrant, 15 to 20 minutes.
4. Using an immersion or regular blender, purée the soup until smooth. Add cream, stock or water to thin as desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle with heavy cream before serving.
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