Nigel Slater's - Bean and chard soup

Nice one from our favourite Nigel Slater… Always loads of Chard around !

Bean and chard soup
Sitting somewhere between soup and stew, this is one of those recipes to use as a base, adding different beans and greens. Swap the borlotti for haricot or cannellini, chickpeas or pinto beans depending on what is in the cupboard. Stir in spinach or cavolo nero leaves at the end if you prefer or if your chard leaves aren’t as perky as their stems. If you are making the soup for the following day, introduce the leaves when you reheat it, just before you eat. Serves 6

onion 1, medium sized
celery 2 stalks
olive oil 2 tbsp, plus little extra, to finish
chard stems 150g
garlic 3 cloves
thyme 6 bushy stems
tomatoes 2x 400g cans (whole or chopped)
borlotti beans 1 x 400g tin
black eyed beans 1 x 400g tin
chard leaves 200g

Peel and roughly chop the onion. Finely dice the celery. Warm the olive oil in a deep, heavy-based pan and add the onion and celery, letting them cook over a moderate heat. Cut the chard stems into small dice and stir into the onions.

Peel and very finely slice the garlic. It should be almost thin enough to see through. Strip the leaves from the thyme then stir into the onion mixture with the garlic.

When the onions are translucent and the aromatics are fragrant and softening, add the tomatoes and their juice together with 2 cans’ worth of water. Bring to the boil, then stir in the beans, rinsed of their canning liquid. (If you are using bottled beans however, I suggest you stir their liquid in as it adds a silky texture to the soup.) Season with black pepper and salt and continue cooking at low simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Wash the chard leaves and cut them into wide strips, then add to the hot soup. Leave for a couple of minutes to soften then ladle the soup into bowls. Trickle over a little olive oil as you serve.