This is a good mix of flavours and textures. The sweetness of the leeks goes well with earthy beans and salty crisp pancetta. Celery gives a bit of crunch and greenness, and the green peppercorns leave a mild smoky aftertaste.
If using dried beans, drain the soaking water and put the beans in a saucepan with fresh water to cover. Bring to the boil, boil for 15 minutes, then simmer for about 30 minutes more until the beans are just tender but not disintegrating. Drain, reserving the liquid. (If using canned beans, drain and rinse thoroughly.)
Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the leeks, celery, bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Cover and sweat over medium-low heat for 15 minutes until slightly soft.
Pour in the stock, then add the crushed peppercorns and the cooked or canned beans. Season with
Meanwhile, fry the pancetta in a non-stick pan until crisp. Drain on paper towels and keep warm.
Fish out the bay leaf and thyme from the soup. Purée about two-thirds of the mixture in a food processor, then pour this back into the pan and reheat gently, stirring. If the soup seems too thick, use some of the reserved bean water or a bit more stock to thin it down.
Ladle into shallow soup plates. Swirl in
© 2008 Christine McFadden. All rights reserved.