Poems, Roses and Butterbean Soup

I was entranced to hear that the Brit­ish poet Ian McMil­lan used to tuck a poem into his children’s packed lunches before school each morn­ing. I’d pay good money for someone to do that for me, although I did once have a boy­friend who used to put a rose in my hand­bag every time I left the house. That was, I sup­pose, a little bit of poetry in itself.

Today the frost has finally come and I have a yearn­ing to make but­ter­bean and pea­nut soup, a recipe my moth­er used to make. She would stand at the Aga stir­ring the soup with the bread knife because she thought it was the only utensil any­one ever really needs. It cuts, it stirs and it spreads she would say, and that pretty much cov­ers most things — unless you have a pen­chant for piped pota­toes which I really don’t.

I’m going to eat my soup read­ing Ode to the West Wind by Percy Bysshe Shel­ley. And I might even tuck a copy of it into my own hand­bag after­wards.

Butterbean and Peanut Soup

Serves 6

500g dried but­ter­beans

1 litre veget­able stock

6 table­spoons crunchy pea­nut but­ter

Salt and pep­per


Soak the but­ter­beans in 1.5 litres of cold water for 24 hours. Drain and rinse well and then put them in a pan with anoth­er 1.5 litres of cold water. Bring to the boil and let the beans bubble briskly for 10 minutes, skim­ming the water as you go. After ten minutes reduce the heat and cook gently for anoth­er ten minutes. Tip away the water and replace with the veget­able stock — Marigold Bouil­lon powder is good for this — and bring to a gentle boil. Add the pea­nut but­ter and con­tin­ue to cook gently for an hour, adding more water if you need to.

Adjust the season­ing at the end and serve with a scat­ter­ing of chopped chives. This, I have to con­fess, is as much an aes­thet­ic as a taste thing. Beige soup needs a little col­our in its life, just like we do.

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10 thoughts on “Poems, Roses and Butterbean Soup

  1. I really like those plates and that shot of the frost is very cool, but most of all I love the story, and not just because I feel the same way about a fork as your mom feels about a but­ter knife. My friends make fun of me whenev­er they see me eat­ing ice cream with it, but I believe that whatever you can’t get with the fork is either not worth get­ting, or worth stick­ing your entire head in to get.

  2. and didn’t you love the John Cage 4 Minutes of Silence he chose! Pity they couldn’t play it all…

    I used to have an old friend who made a mean veg soup with pea­nut but­ter in it — she had lived in South Africa I always thought that’s where the recipe came from…

  3. Love the site, & the pho­tos are gor­geous, with excel­lent col­our sat­ur­a­tion.
    The but­ter­bean soup with pea­nut but­ter is deli­cious, though I cheated & saved
    24 hours by usung tinned beans.

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