Chestnut, bean and bacon soup


We woke up earlier this week to thick thick mist. It’s been a super hot week in London I think, but not here in Edinburgh, here autumn feels like it has arrived. I’ve written before about how soups in the UK aren’t just winter things, we eat them all year round, but there is something about thick mist that gets me thinking of soup.


I discovered the magic of making soups when I was 19 and away from home. A friend and I lived together in China. We ate a lot of risotto because I enjoyed making them, I think my friend got seriously bored of risotto, night after night after night (if you fancy some risotto you could have a look at my chorizo, butternut squash, and lemon risotto, or Italian crab, leek and pea risotto, or chorizo, cherry tomato and rosemary risotto). We didn’t have an oven, just a two-ring hob, so that limited us a bit and forced us to only cook certain foods. We also ate out a lot, which was fabulous. This sounds crazy but I think I probably emailed Mum and asked her how I made a soup and she said something like chop up vegetables and add water, then boil it and you have soup. It was like magic! I couldn’t believe how good it tasted given it was so simple and so delicious and easy. We then started eating a lot of soup, so it’s likely my friend then got bored of soup. The only issue was that the bread available was white and seriously pappy and with soup you want good bread. But my memories of that soup are top notch.


So this soup is similar to those I made in China, in that you just chop stuff up and add water, or stock and cook it a little and then you get a delicious soup. I came up with this recipe last year sometime, but now with mist arriving, it feels like the time to share it with you.


2 tbsp oil
2 clove of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
200g smoked bacon, roughly chopped
a small handful of thyme leaves, removed the stalks
180g cooked and peeled chestnuts, roughly chopped
2 tins (440g) of haricot beans or cannellini beans, thoroughly rinsed
500ml of ham stock
250ml of hot water
1/8 tsp of salt
lots of freshly ground black pepper

Serves 4
1. In a large saucepan heat the oil over a medium heat and fry the garlic and onion for three minutes with the lid on. Remove the lid and add the bacon and thyme and fry until the bacon is cooked, then add the beans and the chestnuts and cook for two minutes.
2. Add the stock and hot water and bring to the boil. Taste and then season and then you are ready to serve.

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