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A Healthy & Warming Winter Recipe

16 January 2014

Written by: Carina Contini

Our own winter chard is looking majestic in the garden and British chard is all over the shops. Here is a lovely, healthy and hearty recipe for this cold month.

Serves 4

500g dried cannellini beans
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 large onions, finely chopped
1 large fennel bulb, finely chopped
500g rainbow chard
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 litre ham stock made from a ham end
salt and freshly ground black pepper

To finish

2 garlic cloves
large handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves
extra virgin olive oil
1 salted anchovy


Soak the beans overnight in a large pot with plenty of cold water, to which you have added the bicarbonate of soda. This helps release the nasty gas that gives beans their anti-social side effects. The next day, rinse the beans and return them to the pot with plenty of fresh cold water. Bring to the boil, then drain and rinse under the tap.
Finely chop any coarse chard stalks. In a large soup pan, fry the onion, fennel and the chopped chard stalks in a generous amount of olive oil until soft and golden. The longer and slower this process takes, the better the flavours will be in the finished soup.

Add the stock and the rinsed beans and bring to a simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you are using ham stock, you may not need to add any salt at this stage. Simmer for 40–60 minutes until the beans are soft. The time this will take depends on how dry the beans were when you started and how long you soaked them for.
Coarsely chop the chard leaves and finely chop any tender stalks. Add these to the soup and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the leaves have wilted. Adjust the seasoning. If you want to make the soup a bit creamier, this is the moment to blend a quarter of it, then return the blended soup to the pan.
Serve with trimmings of the ham taken from the ham end.

To finish, use a pestle and mortar to cream the garlic, salted anchovy with a pinch of salt. Add the parsley leaves and a generous spoonful of the olive oil, and cream together to a runny paste, adding more oil if required. Add a couple of spoonfuls of this finishing touch to the soup.

Carina's Cookbook
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