If you prefer a more coarsely textured soup, process only half the bean mixture. It's a good idea to stir through some chopped parsley before serving. You can also substitute the lard with a good-quality olive oil. You'll need to begin this recipe a day ahead.
- 2 tbsp lard
- 2 leeks, white parts only, finely chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 400 gm dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight in cold water, drained
- 1.2 litres chicken stock
- 300 ml pouring cream
- For drizzling: extra-virgin olive oil
- 80 ml (1/3 cup) olive oil
- 150 gm day-old ciabatta loaf, cut into rough cubes
- 1Heat lard in a large saucepan over medium heat, add leek, onion and garlic and sauté until tender (8-10 minutes). Add beans and stock, bring to the boil, then cook over low-medium heat until beans are very tender (45 minutes-1 hour; add more stock if beans become too dry).
- 2Meanwhile, for croûtons, heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add ciabatta and stir frequently until golden and crisp (2-4 minutes), then set aside on absorbent paper to drain.
- 3Transfer bean mixture to a food processor and process, in batches, with cream until smooth (alternatively, you can use a hand-held blender). Season to taste and serve hot, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and scattered with croûtons.
Drink Suggestion: Stylish red Chianti Classico. Drink suggestion by Max Allen