Melissa Collison


PorkFest - Tuscan White Bean + Speck Soup

It has been announced that 'April is Pork Month' and I must say that this has really grabbed my attention.

Well, who am I to miss out on this wonderful opportunity?

Personally, I am into a natural, organic, free range style of pork.  I like to know that the pork I am about to eat has been happily splashing around in mud baths and frolicking in grassy fields.  Just imagine!  For this kind of pork, I usually get down to GRUB Butchery in Vaucluse, or get the fabulous supplier Feather and Bone to deliver it. 

Meanwhile, it’s time to partake in a little pork.

Pig out on this wonderfully delicious White Bean and Speck Soup.  If you follow the images below with my simple directions, you will be able to ‘wow’ your friends with this gorgeous soup and the theatre of singeing it at the end with the burnt chilli and sage leaves.

While I might not be Martha or Nigella I have gone ahead and included the method at the bottom. That, and some Marvin Gaye. 

Start with one onion, rough chopped, 6 garlic cloves and white beans.  You can either be pure and soak your own white beans, or if you don't have time, or forgot, you can use tinned.  Make sure you strain them first...

Don't brown the onion, we want the soup to remain white.  Lightly toss it in oil first.  Throw in the beans (if using tinned, I generally use 4-5 tins).  Grab your piece of speck and sliced garlic and place in pot.  Swish around for about 5 minutes to bring out the flavour.  

Place the celery and 3 bay leaves into the pot with enough water to cover the contents by about 3cm.  Bring to the boil and stir then take down to a simmer for at least 2 hours, season with salt and pepper.  Add water as necessary but don't make it too runny and try not to over-stir.  It looks a lot better if some of the beans are still intact.  Frankly, I never over-handle food.  There is nothing worse than seeing food that has been handled so much it probably should have had a shotgun wedding with the chef before hitting the table.

Once you are ready to serve, remove the bay leaves, take the piece of speck out and slice in thin pieces.  Serve each bowl with a hearty amount of the bean soup and ensure each plate gets a piece of celery along with speck slices.  Just a note not to over-do the celery. I know one stick sounds 'mean' but it's the simplicity of this soup that really makes it sing.  Once you are ready to go, quickly pan-fry sage leaves with a pinch of chilli flakes and spoon a little into each bowl.  Watch the sparks fly.  This is the theatre, and the oil infused with the sage and chilli in the soup is the hero of the dish.

In simplicity is beauty.

Now click the button below to get in the mood for a month of pork: