- 250g dry cannellini bean or haricot beans, soaked overnight and drained
Slightly kidney-shaped with squarish ends, cannellini beans are from Italy and are creamy white…
- 1 small onion, roughly chopped
Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…
- 1 small carrot, roughly chopped
The carrot, with its distinctive bright orange colour, is one of the most versatile root…
- 1 bay leaf and a sprig of fresh thyme
- 1l vegetable stock
- 100g fresh wild mushroom (such as ceps or morels) or chestnut mushrooms, sliced thinly
- 1 tbsp olive oil
Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…
- 25g butter, plus an extra knob of cold butter
Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…
- 142ml carton double cream
- a few drops of truffle oil, optional, but good
Cover the beans with cold water, add the onion, carrot and herbs. Bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until tender.
Remove 3-4 tbsp of the nearly cooked beans and set aside for serving. Continue to cook the rest for another 10-20 minutes or so until very soft, topping up with more boiling water if necessary. Drain and discard the vegetables and herbs. Place the beans in a food processor and whizz to a purée until creamy. It may be easier to purée half at a time, ladling in some of the stock to slacken the mixture and get it going. Stop the machine after 2-3 minutes, scrape down with a spatula, correct the seasoning, add a bit more stock and buzz again. The longer you leave it puréeing, the smoother it will become; 4-5 minutes should do it. Return to the same pan. Stir in the stock and seasoning, bring to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes.
Brush the mushrooms to remove any soil then slice down them for the best shape, but not too thinly or they will shrivel when cooking. Heat a non-stick pan until quite hot, add the oil, then the mushrooms, and sauté until they start to colour. Now add the 25g/1oz of butter and continue to sauté until just cooked. Keep the heat in the pan high, as you want to roast rather than boil them. Season and drain.
Rub the soup through a fine sieve with the back of a ladle for a fine velvety texture. Return to the pan and stir in the cream. As the mixture almost comes to the boil, add the truffle oil, if using. (If you add the oil when the mixture is cold, it may split.)
When ready to serve, divide the reserved beans (they don’t need re-heating) and mushrooms between warmed soup cups. Add the knob of butter to the near-boiling soup then froth with a hand blender (do this for 4-5 minutes to get it really light) then slowly pour the soup into the cups from a ladle to three quarters full, wiping the ladle over the edge of the pan so the soup doesn’t drip. Hold back the froth in the pan then scoop that on top of the cups to serve.
Skilful choppingHold the vegetable in position with your two index fingers and let your “pinkie” and thumb grip the back of it, keeping them out of the way of the blade (you should feel the top of the knife with the side of your knuckle).Then, keeping the knife in the same position as you chop it up and down and keeping the blade upright at all times, let your fingers guide the vegetable through behind it. Start slowly as you practise this technique, then you can speed up later.
How to get a silky puréeThe secret to getting a really fine purée with the beans is to blend them while they are hot – if they are cold they won’t break down so easily. Add a few ladlefuls of stock as you purée, to make it easier.
Creating a frothI use a commercial hand mixer to get a good amount of froth, but you can also use a stick blender. The trick is to lift the blender up and down and move it all the way round the pan, so you build up momentum and aerate everything to create a velvety soup. Add a little cold butter towards the end to bring the temperature down, which also helps with the frothing.