Jack Monroe's Red Bean Soup with Dumplings

 , guardian.co.uk  |  Updated: January 29, 2015 18:32 IST

Jack Monroe's Red Bean Soup with Dumplings

Deeply satisfying: red bean soup with dumplings. Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian.

The humble kidney bean makes a great base for this deeply satisfying soup and dumpling combo.

Regular readers will know that I am near-fanatical about the humble kidney bean, a throwback to the days when a can was 17p on the bottom shelves of the supermarket (now nearly twice the price two years later). I mashed them into burgers, padded out chillis, plumped up a goulash - my love for the little red bean knows no bounds. One afternoon, sitting in the pub with my friend Chris, I found a kindred kidney bean spirit. "Red pea soup," he announced, before enthusiastically recounting holidays in Jamaica. Soup? Out of kidney beans? I was intrigued, and went rifling through cookbooks for recipe inspiration. And voila, I wasn't disappointed. Traditional recipes use a base of pork bones and/or shredded beef, but I've gone for some streaky bacon as a tasty addition instead. Deeply satisfying and simple to make, just don't skimp on the spinners (dumplings).

(Serves 4)

1 large onion, diced

4 fat cloves of garlic, minced

1 small red chilli (or pinch of dried chilli flakes), sliced finely

Pinch of allspice

1 large carrot or 2 smaller ones, diced


1 small potato, diced

1 sprig of thyme, picked, or 1 tsp mixed dried herbs

1l chicken stock (or vegetable)

500g kidney beans (soaked weight, approx 2 drained cans)

2 rashers streaky bacon, to garnish

For the dumplings:

100g plain flour

Pinch of salt and pepper

1 sprig of thyme, picked, or 1 tsp mixed dried herbs

50-60ml water

Toss the onion, garlic and chilli into a good sized saucepan with a little oil and the allspice. Soften on a low heat for a few minutes .

Add the carrot and potato - I scrub, rather than peel my veg - rumour has it that the best bits are lurking under the skin, so leave it on. Add the thyme, pour over your stock, and crank the heat up to bring it to the boil. Reduce to a simmer. Drain and rinse your kidney beans, and add to the pan, giving it all a good stir. While that does its thing, make your spinners ...

Mix the flour, salt and thyme leaves in a bowl with a good grind of pepper. Make a well in the middle and add your water, mixing to form a stiff (but not dry and cracking) dough. With floured hands, form into small balls and drop into the soup.

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Simmer for 15 minutes, until most of the kidney beans have broken down and thickened the soup, and the spinners are cooked through. Fry your bacon on a high heat until super-crispy, smash it into pieces and scatter on top for extra salty deliciousness.

For more recipe ideas, including using up remaining ingredients, see agirlcalledjack.com or follow @MsJackMonroe on Twitter.


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