As the winter season approaches here in Sydney, I feel a fervent yearning for heart-warming food, the kind that will nourish you body and will comfort your soul as you perfume the house with scented candles, dim the lights and snuggle under a blanket to catch your favourite show or, in my case, read a cookery book. I am more of a summer person, and yet I find myself happily surrendering to the inevitable winter chills and shorter days as I head to the stove to make scalding hot soups, ready to be enriched with seasonal goods.
INGREDIENTS, serves 4
1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced and well washed
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 celery stick, sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
1 small handful of smoked speck or pancetta (or chorizo), cut into cubes, omit for a vegetarian/vegan option
1 tin of cannellini beans, well drained and rinsed
3/4 cup of baby pasta (ditalini, orzo, risoni…)
salt and pepper to taste
chillies and celery leaves to serve, optional
1. Heat up the oil in a medium saucepan, drop in the leeks and cook over medium-low heat for 8-10 minutes or until soft.
2. Add the potatoes and celery along with the garlic and pancetta and cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes.
3. Add the beans and cover with water. Simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
4. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly.
5. Puree 1/3 of the soup in a food processor or blender then add it back to the pot. Add the baby pasta and cook in the soup until al dente (you may need to add a little water to the pot, just enough to make sure the pasta is well covered)
6. Serve drizzled with evoo, back pepper and celery leaves and some freshly chopped chillies for a little extra kick.