"This soup uses a small amount of bacon for flavour, so make sure you use a well-made bacon with a good smoky flavour from a well-raised pig. I reckon your local farmers’ market is the best place to source good bacon." Matthew Evans, For the Love of Meat
- 100 g dried white beans, soaked overnight
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 100 g free-range bacon, roughly chopped
- 1½ baby leeks (white and pale green part only), finely chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 zucchini, finely chopped
- 1 thyme sprig
- 100 g podded fresh peas
- 2 garlic cloves
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 large bunch basil, leaves picked and chopped
- 60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil
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 begin this recipe the day before.
Soaking time overnight
Drain the beans, then place in a large saucepan with the bay leaf and 750 ml (3 cups) cold water. Bring to the boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour or until tender. Add more water if it starts looking too dry. When the beans are cooked, remove from the heat and set aside. Discard the bay leaf.
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over medium–high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8- 10 minutes or until the bacon starts to become crisp on the edges.
Add the leek and cook until they become soft and golden, then add the carrot, celery, garlic, zucchini and thyme and continue to cook until the vegetables begin to soften. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the white beans and their cooking water, plus an extra litre (4 cups) water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add the peas and cook for another 2 minutes or until they are just cooked (you want them to stay bright green).
Meanwhile, to make the pistou, crush the garlic and salt in a mortar and pestle until a smooth paste forms. Add the chopped basil and continue pounding until you have a rough paste. Drizzle the olive oil over and continue to pound until smooth. Serve the soup with a generous dollop of pistou, and leave the rest on the table so you can add more as desired.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Vanessa Austin. Food preparation by Alex Herbert.