I never, EVER thought I would say this but I am getting pretty sick of this cold weather. Living in an old, poorly built, uninsulated workers cottage can be rough going. I know our northern cousins laugh at us when we say it is cold (heck – even our southern cousins do too!!!) but our houses just aren’t designed to retain any heat. They are designed to let the breezes through and, boy – let me tell you – they let the breezes through alright! OUR house could win an award for its ability to allow freezing, cold air to blow straight through. I mean, I can see the outside through my bedroom floors – that ain’t good yeah? I put some of that insulation tape on our door frame – NOTHING – I can still feel a good stiff FREEZING COLD breeze. I have been complaining recently about a stiff neck and I only just realised it is because I am SHIVERING all night long!!! I’m sorry – I’ll stop my whinging and just give you the recipe I made to help out with this biting cold. I know as a vegetarian I can’t actually enjoy this soup but Jason just loved it – him in the tee shirt in 6 degree weather, laughing at the cold while I am in a beanie, two pairs of socks, jeans, long sleeve shirt, jumper, hoodie and ski jacket sitting on the heat pack! (Mind you he is the one with the horrible cold and I am still standing! Touche!)
Baked borlotti bean and pancetta soup
2 cups dried borlotti beans – note: don’t try this with canned beans, they just won’t absorb the flavours. And seriously all you have to do it put them in water in the fridge the day before – PRESTO!
2 red onions, diced
a ham hock or 200 gms pancetta
6 garlic cloves, sliced
4 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
2 teaspoons rosemary, chopped
1 litre chicken stock
200gms ciabatta bread
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch cavolo nero
Put the borlotti beans in a container and cover with water overnight. Next day rinse well. Preheat oven to 180 degree celsius. Put beans in a large casserole dish with the onion, celery, ham hock or pancetta (I used a ham hock because it is way cheaper and you can get them at the supermarket), chilli, rosemary, stock and 1 litre of water. Season with salt and pepper. Put the lid on and place in the oven and bake for about 2 and a half hours, stirring occasionally. Check to see if the beans are tender and add a little more water if necessary. When soup is ready heat oil in frying pain and throw in bread to until golden brown and toasted. Pull soup out of the oven and take out the ham hock and shred the meat and add back into the soup. Chop the cavolo nero (a dark tuscan cabbage which added a lovely earthy flavour, you could use silverbeet if need be) and place into the soup and stir until tender. (The heat from the soup will cook the cavolo nero quite quickly.) Ladle into bowls, sprinkle croutons over and eat.
This recipe is again from Bill Grainger – I need to get out more often!!!