Those ancient Greeks who figured out that the earth is spherical, came up with words like “equinox”, proposed wild new theories and whose names all seem to end in “-medes” – they buggered up when it came to the weather. The winter solstice has come and gone down here in the Southern Hemisphere: I remember it clearly: it happened on a Friday and I didn’t go out because hibernation felt appropriate. The thought that it was the midpoint of winter cheered me up enormously – surely that means it’s all the way downhill to summer, right? I’m thinking shorter nights, warmer weather, flip-flops, the triumphant return of grass to my lawn and the ability to enjoy ice-cream again. Not so! Whoever’s in charge of the weather has messed up and it’s colder than ever! It was 3 degrees when I drove to work last week *outraged, with icicles forming on extremities*. Weather-authorities, you slackers, flip the switch for Summer already!
Anyway, the only thing getting me through this prolonged winter misery is vast quantities of steamy-hot soup. I love soup; it fills you up, the bowl keeps the chilly paws warm, and most kinds don’t mind being frozen. Some of them do require a bit of time on the stove, but then there’s this 4-Bean & Tomato Soup that’s ready in no time flat, is packed full of good things, and tastes divine with very little effort. Because the key ingredients come out of a can (meaning they are already cooked) (meaning that this will take under 30 minutes), consider this post an ode to Frenchman Nicolas Appert, who first came up with this method of food preservation back in 1809.
I found this recipe in a copy of Pick n Pay’s FreshLiving magazine and it’s come to the rescue on many a cold winter’s evening when I’m in need of soup for the shivering soul. It’s super-tasty – it doesn’t have that “old-person’s-house” taste that many bean soups seem to have, and the chunky texture and tomato give it a salsa vibe (add a chilli!). It’s very filling and even in the face of a midwinter appetite a little goes a long way.
For four generous servings of 4-Bean & Tomato Soup, in lieu of warm weather:
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup of celery, chopped (I throw the leaves in too – waste not, want not)
1 cup of carrots, peeled and chopped/sliced
2 cans of four-bean mix, drained and rinsed (the mix I got consisted of small white beans, chickpeas, red kidney beans and… um… a fourth kind of bean whose name escapes me right now)
1 can chopped, peeled tomatoes
4 cups (1 litre) beef stock
Salt and pepper, to taste
Righty-oh. It goes like this – arrive home from work so cold that you can’t feel your toes anymore, and are uncertain with regard to their existence. Check, just in case.
Heat a glug of sunflower oil in a large pot; add the onion, celery and carrot and fry for about 5 minutes on high heat. Add all the remaining ingredients and simmer until the veggies are completely soft and soup-y.
Remove from the heat and carefully approach with a stick-blender – be careful! Don’t go splashing piping hot soup all over the place. Have a go at it with the blender, it should be chunky but without great big lumps of vegetables hanging around.
That is all. Seriously.
If you like, you can ring the changes by adding complementary flavours – I’ve tried chilli, curry spices, fresh thyme, all to very yummy effect. This soup freezes well – I freeze it in a big freezer bag, flattening it so that it is able to stack nicely in the freezer as well as defrost quickly.