|150g / 5½oz cooked ham|
|400g / 14oz can of Cannellini beans (see cook's notes above|
|400g / 14oz can of chopped tomatoes|
|Handful of spinach|
|1 litre / 1.75 pints of hot vegetable stock|
|1 sweet pepper (red green or yellow)|
|2 bay leaves|
|3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil|
|Salt and pepper to taste|
Cut the sweet pepper in half, remove the stalk, pith and seeds then chop into small bits.
Peel and finely chop the onions.
Chop the ham up into small bite sized pieces.
Mix the curry paste and olive oil.
This recipe uses cooked ham or gammon leftover from a previous meal although any cooked ham will fine. Bacon is another alternative, just ensure that it is cooked.
Cannellini beans can be substituted for any other type of beans such as kidney beans, chickpea or borlotti beans. If you use butter beans they will make a thicker soup. About a third of the soup is blended just before adding the beans. This gives you a semi-thick soup which still has some texture to it. Blending more of the soup will make it thicker and with less texture. The choice is yours.
If you have any leftover ham bits or the bone then a good idea when you add stock cubes to make the stock is to simmer the stock with the meat / bones for half an hour. Strain the stock and then use it in the recipe. The ham bone especially will add lots of flavour to the soup and make use of something you would otherwise throw away.
Other ideas for this soup include adding a hint of background flavour by using either a small amount of curry paste, sweet paprika or cumin. Both "hot" the soup up but don't go overboard with them or you will overpower the other tastes. Vegetables can also added if you have any leftovers. Peas go well as does finely chopped celery and if you have any mushrooms then simply chop them up, fry them off for five minutes and then add them with the beans.
Fry the onions and peppers for about 15 minutes until they have softened and the onions have browned just a little. Keep turning the ingredients every couple of minutes so that they cook evenly.
Transfer the contents of the frying pan to a large pan (your frying pan is unlikely to be large enough) and add the stock, bay leaves, tomatoes, salt and pepper seasoning. Simmer for 15 minutes stirring the soup occasionally.
Heat the soup through on a medium heat for four minutes and serve into warm soup bowls.