Cannellini bean soup with prosciutto spinach and parmesan rind
he delicate flavour of bay leaves and the slight saltiness of the prosciutto combine perfectly in this feel-good soup. Extremely quick and easy to prepare, it makes a satisfying complete meal served with some good bread, or an equally delicious starter. I have not added any salt, as the prosciutto and stock season the soup perfectly, but do check and add to taste, if necessary. For extra flavour, add some roughly chopped Parmesan rind, which is often added to soups in Italy. If you fancy an extra kick, sprinkle some dried chilli (hot red pepper) flakes in at the end.
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Portions: serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a starter
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 60 g/2¼ oz prosciutto (Parma ham), finely chopped
- 1 leek, finely chopped
- 1 small carrot, finely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 700 ml/24 fl oz/3 cups hot vegetable stock (bouillon) a piece of Parmesan rind (about 20 g/¾ oz), roughly chopped
- 1×400-g/14-oz can of cannellini beans (240 g/8½ oz drained weight)
- 120 g/4¼ oz spinach leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Freshly grated Parmesan, to serve (optional)
Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan set over a high heat. Add the prosciutto and stir-fry for a couple of minutes, until almost crispy. Add the leek, carrot and bay leaves, then lower the heat to medium and sweat for about 4 minutes. Pour in the stock, add the Parmesan rind, and bring to the boil. Now, lower the heat, cover with a lid, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring from time to time with a wooden spoon, to prevent the Parmesan rind from sticking to the pan. Add the drained cannellini beans and spinach, season with some black pepper, and cook for a further 5 minutes. Serve with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan, if desired.