Scoopin’ soup: White bean and roasted capsicum with nachos

Occasionally on a Friday, my husband and I both find ourselves working from home. Kid. Free.

And so while the girls are at preschool and after we drink a coffee in the sun in sweet peace, we nip out for a bidniz lunch somewhere local. Today, it was the Burrawang General Store, am awesome little cafe/restaurant snuggled in a historic timber building. It’s one of those places the sandstone steps make you wobble on the way in (and more on the way out) being worn down from many years of boot traffic.

I had the soup.

I always get the soup.

Nothing beats a beautifully balanced, warming dish, where every ingredient sings.

And this humble white bean and capsicum soup gave me a great idea for a kid-pleaser – just add nachos.

What kid doesn’t want chips for dinner? And yet, corn chips, so that little bit classier, nay, hipsterer, for parents too.

This is comfort food plus – and you should have most of the ingredients in your pantry. The protein, fibre and antioxidant-rich cannellini beans make for a gorgeous hearty creaminess, and the roasted capsicums, well, they just come into their own. They’re an incredible source of vitamins C and A too.

I’ve never been a fan of the raw capsicum – or worse, half cooked. But deeply, sweetly roasted, they lose all bitterness, which make them a much more attractive prospect for kids. If you’re really not a fan of capsicum at all, then roasted tomatoes would make a great substitute (see note below).

Finish with a dollop of sour cream, and serve some plain corn chips on the side for soup scoopin’.

INGREDIENTS

4 capsicums (for vitamin C)

2 x 400g tins cannellini beans (for fibre and protein)

Chicken or vegetable stock

Sour cream

Plain nachos

 

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to HOT HOT HOT.
  2. Cut the very large capsicums in half, or keep whole if smaller. Put them on a baking tray lined with baking paper, or in a roasting dish, rub a little olive oil over them, and pop them in the oven. Roast till blackened on the outside – this should take about half an hour. Remove and cool.
  3. When cooled, peel off the skins and cut out the seeds. Be careful not to lose any juices – you want to save all the flavour.
  4. Warm your chicken stock in a large saucepan, add the capsicums. Drain and rinse the cannellini beans, then add to pot. Heat through.
  5. Blitz with a hand blender.
  6. Serve into bowls with a dollop of sour cream on top, and individual serves of corn chips on the side.

 

OTHER WAYS TO ROLL THIS:

  1. Add some chopped avocado, corn kernels, feta or coriander to top.
  2. Use a jar of roasted capsicums if you don’t have fresh. I always stock up on these at the supermarket as they’re so useful to have in the pantry anyway.
  3. Substitute tomatoes for capsicum. You’ll need about 10 large ones. Again, roast tomatoes in a hot oven. Wait till cool then peel (the skin contains the bitterness and gets stuck in your teeth).

 

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Leek risotto with added extras

This is the dinner to make when you have little in the fridge but a lot on your mind, and you need 20 minutes to yourself, simply stirring a pot.

The leek is such an underrated vegetable, especially for feeding kids. The key here is to make a silken sweetness, which forms the base for this most soothing of dishes.

You want to use a large, heavy bottomed pot or saucepan, over low, low heat, and a really good dollop of butter.

Add the leeks, put the lid on, and really give those guys time to sweat in the butter. You don’t want to brown them, though if you get distracted by cries for Peppa Pig, it’s not a disaster if some brown bits appear. Just take them off the heat.

Once the leeks are mush, add the risotto rice and stir to coat in the butter. Cook for a minute.

Add a ladle of the stock at a time and stir till absorbed. Repeat until the rice is al dente.

Stir through half the parmesan and a little more cold butter. The result should be an oozing, cheesy pot of goodness. Top with more parmesan to serve.

 

MORE WAYS TO ROLL THIS

Bacon. Kids generally love bacon and the saltiness really works a treat with the sweetness of the leeks. Fry some chopped bacon in the pot first. Then, turn down the heat and add the butter and leeks, proceed as above.

Peas & green beans. To up the veggie count, toss in some frozen peas and/or green bean batons just before the rice is cooked. The veggies will cook along with the rice for the last few minutes.

Bacon, peas and green beans. Do the lot. Use as above for both.