yields four servings
8 oz dried butter beans
4 oz smoked streaky bacon
2 tablespoons of oil
1 bay leaf
1 oz butter
1 onion finely chopped
1 leek cleaned, trimmed and finely chopped
2 small stick of celery finely chopped
1 garlic clove
1½ pints of water
5 fl oz milk
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preferably soak the beans overnight by covering them with cold water and drain them before use.
Clean and finely chop the vegetables. Heat up one of the tablespoons of oil in a medium pan and cook the bacon for about 5 minutes till it is lightly crispy and golden brown. Add the bay leaf, 1½ pints of water to the pan along with the soaked butter beans. Bring the mixture to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 25 minutes or until the beans are tender. Skim off any scum that appears on the surface. Heat the butter and the rest of the oil in another saucepan and add the remaining chopped vegetables. Stir well and coat everything in the butter and oil and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes until they are soft. Tip everything into one pan and mix together well, throwing away the bay leaf. Next add the garlic, cover and simmer for a further 10 minutes until the beans and vegetables are really soft. Mash the beans against the side of the pan with a fork, this allows the beans to thicken the soup. Pour in the milk and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and stir well. Serve immediately and sprinkle the top with freshly chopped parsley.
bacon recipe courtesy of: Cook UK (step by step recipes with pictures), 1 Gaydon Hill Farm Cottages, Gaydon, Warwick CV35 0HQ