White bean & smoked bacon soup

White bean & smoked bacon soup

Cooking time
165 mins
Deidre Rooney

This is a very elegant soup despite being made from such rustic ingredients.

From the grocer


Quantity Ingredient
250g dried haricot beans or butterbeans, soaked overnight
6 cloves
1 dried bay leaf
8 black peppercorns
60ml olive oil
1 litre chicken or ham stock
150ml pouring cream, (optional)
freshly ground black pepper

From the greengrocer

Quantity Ingredient
2 onions, peeled
a handful parsley stalks, plus chopped parsley, to serve (optional)
1 celery stalk, diced
2 small carrots, diced

From the butcher

Quantity Ingredient
200g smoked bacon, cut into cubes


  1. Drain and rinse the beans, place them in a large saucepan and cover with 2 litres cold water. Stick the cloves into 1 of the onions and add to the pan along with the bay leaf, parsley stalks and peppercorns. Bring to the boil, skim off any scum and then partially cover. Reduce the heat so the liquid is simmering and cook for a couple of hours, or until the beans are just tender. Keep an eye on the water level – you may need to add more liquid to prevent the beans drying out. When cooked, drain the beans and discard the onion, bay leaf and parsley stalks.
  2. Finely chop the remaining onion. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the chopped onion, celery, carrots and bacon, reserving some of the bacon for a garnish. Cook gently until golden. Add the beans and the stock (if using ham stock make sure it’s not too salty). Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20–30 minutes, or until the beans collapse completely. Squash them with the back of a wooden spoon or use a potato masher to help them along if necessary. Add the cream (if using), pepper and taste for seasoning – you probably won’t need salt. Quickly fry the remaining bacon in its own fat over a high heat.
  3. Ladle the soup into bowls, divide the fried bacon between each serving and scatter with the parsley (if using).
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