White Bean and Rosemary Soup with Nut Pesto

That thing where you think about doing something for so long and when you do it’s not that good. That.

I guess I should after such a long break write a post apologising for not posting and explaining where I have been. Well I will… At some point… but if we wait for me to do that then I’d never get back here

I am approaching my 45th birthday in a couple of weeks and the knowledge of this has lead me to be a bit reflective of late… 45 may not be a milestone for most but I think mentally, because of my family history I have been thinking of it as the half way mark of my life…also my life has divided up quite well into batches of 15…so it kind of feels appropriate to take some time to reflect on how things are going and what I want to improve.

On that theme… I am one of the world’s most expert procrastinators. I could win medals for my ability to put things off until a later date. My house is full of books which I will read “one day”, piles of paper and filing waiting for the day in which I sort it, newspaper cuttings of recipes that one day I will get around to making and of course countless bookmarks on my computer of interesting websites with recipes or knitting patterns or similar that one day I will get around to reading in full…

But no more; The next 12 months will see a serious effort to read books, cook recipes and clear the clutter from my life… starting with this soup…

Mind you working my way through all these bookmarked recipes is not really in line with my other aim for this year which is to “cook from the cupboards” aka use up what I have (I can’t claim originality on this and it is a post for another day… more procrastinating)… nor does it work with eating seasonally as you can see from this soup…

So, where do I start ? I can’t even remember why I bookmarked this recipe and then later printed it out… I think I was attracted by the idea of nut pesto which sound much more interesting and exotic than “white bean soup”. However I do love Allegra’srecipes but find they are a bit cheffy and not really conducive to my sort of cooking which is more “come home knackered, need to put something on the table in a hurry…

Soaking the beans not the issue it’s the 2 hours of cooking…which is probably why this recipe once printed out then sat in a pile of papers for about 2 years or more…then having decided to make it and putting the beans on to soak in the morning for 8 hours in the end the beans got 24 hours as I got back too late on Saturday to start cookin

So Sunday morning found me tantalising the neighbourhood with the gentle Smell of garlic and rosemary sweating slowly on the stovetop whilst I drank espresso on the patio in glorious sunshine.

I used lots of rosemary. I’m using it a lot in my cooking at the moment as it is going mad by the front door, obviously my garden is far better than wild Corsican hillsides…the soup was looking good but then things fell apart at the pesto stage.

The Pesto didn’t really work…it wouldn’t process properly possibly because I was making half the amount. 150g of hazelnuts would make far too much pesto and there is just me eating this. But I don’t think the unsuccessful pesto can be blamed for the fact the soup just tastes a bit meh, a bit bland… to be honest the pesto made me feel ill… this could be due to a hot day and generally not feeling like eating…

But then weather took a turn for the wintery and the soup seemed much more seasonally appropriate.

Day 2 I axed the pesto, splashed some more vinegar in the soup and a teaspoon of salt…I had erred on the side of caution with the chicken stock as soup made with Taste of Chicken tends to be overpowered by the stock. The salt may have done the trick as it certainly tasted better but that may have been to a day in the pot for the flavours to mend… the top of the soup where the salt was tasted better than the end

Lets see how Day 3 does…I have some leftover parmesan… maybe next time I should have bunged a parmesan crust into it…after all my deep freeze is where Parmesan crusts go to die…the top shelf is a graveyard of past cheese…

i’ll post the link to the recipe in a couple of days…am having computer problems at the mo

Baked Sardines and Pine Nuts…in moderation


I deconstructed Nigel Slater’s Baked Sardine and Pine Nut recipe more as an exercise…unless O’Mighty Tim has a damascan style conversion to fish this won’t be appearing for dinner in this house anytime soon. It’s not suitable for taking for lunch as it’s served hot/warm and I don’t have anything capable of keeping it hot for longer than 3 hours at the moment.

Sardines are meant to be a  healthy option being 25% protein, oodles of vitamin B, 9% fat and most of it poly unsaturated plus being good sources of vitamin D, calcium and Omega 3 fatty acids. 10 small sardines, according to FitDay comes out at at approximately 104 calories of which 5.7g are fat.

The whole dish however (serving 3-4 people) comes out at 1611 calories of which 131g are fat, 12.3g protein and 0% fat. In other words 70% fat, but most of that being poly or monounsaturated…so falling more into the “good fats” category.  A 3 person portion is 537 calories, if it serves 4 person then that drops to 402 calories.

If you want to make this less calorific then you could play around with the olive oil (accounts for 477 of the total dishes calories, 54g fat) or reduce the pine nuts…but perhaps not by too much as the pine nuts are part of the point of the dish. The 100g pine nuts accounts for 673 calories and 68g fat.  Reducing the olive oil to 2 tablespoons and the pine nuts to 80g will reduce a 4 person serving down to 309 calories…don’t know what that will do to the flavour as I’m not going to get a chance to try it…

I think what I’d probably do for this is to call a portion equal to 2 fish and serve it with either steamed veg or a citrus dressed salad… a 2 fish serving brings it down to 322 calories (18g fat)

I didn’t bother working out the cake…same rules apply to cake as they do to G&T the occasional one is fine…however for the cake to be equivalent in calories as a G&T you would need to divide it into about 24 slices…and only eat it on a day where you’d had no other fat !