• Borlotti bean and bacon soup with basil oil. (Louise Franc)

This rustic soup is loaded with a winter-friendly mix of vegetables and bacon – and the herb oil gives it a fresh, bracing lift.






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  • 250 g (1¼ cups) dried borlotti (cranberry) beans
  • 100 g diced bacon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 litre (4 cups) vegetable stock
  • Crusty bread, to serve


Basil oil

  • 25 g (½ cup, firmly packed) basil leaves
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil 

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


You will need to start this recipe the day before.

If you prefer a slightly thicker soup, increase the potato to 400 g, or add a small handful of short pasta (such as ditalini) with the beans and simmer it in the soup.

Put the beans in a large bowl, cover with plenty of cold water and soak overnight. Drain and set aside.

Cook the bacon in a large saucepan over high heat for 2-3 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the olive oil, onion, carrot and celery and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are lightly browned and just softened. Add the garlic, rosemary, bay leaves and tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes.

Add the beans, potatoes, stock and 1 litre (4 cups) water. Partially cover and bring to a simmer. Cook, partially covered, over low heat for 1 hour, removing any scum that rises to the surface. Allow to cool slightly.

Remove the bay leaves and strip the rosemary sprigs, discarding the stems and returning the leaves to the soup. Season to taste with sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper.

Combine the basil oil ingredients in a small food processor with a small pinch of salt. Blend to a smooth purée.
Blend the soup roughly using a stick blender, or transfer in two batches to a food processor and blend until just smooth, with some vegetables and beans still remaining quite whole.

Gently reheat the soup. Ladle into bowls, drizzle with the basil oil and serve with crusty bread.

This recipe is from Low & Slow (Smith Street Books).