Meat-Free Monday: Soup

Cannellini, Leek, Basil and Lemon Soup



A nice, quick soup for a meat-free Monday. I love the combination of the creamy cannellini beans with the zesty lemon and the sweet basil.


I have always thought that leek and potato soup was a great combination of flavours, however I have never enjoyed potatoes in soup. I detest the sandy, crumbly thing that happens to a potato once added to a soup. Even if you blitz the soup, the sand remains, the wonderful soup that should be silky and smooth is a bowl of wet sand – to me anyway . Which brings me to my soup, I add cannellini beans instead of potatoes (and a bit of lemon and basil). I know a lot of you are thinking that beans are quite sandy too, but for some reason the sandiness of beans do not bother me, it seems to be a smoother sand, a less offensive one.


Anywho, I don’t like potatoes in soup but I love beans in soup – hence my re-invention of the potato and leek soup. Serve this soup with crusty bread and a nice cold glass of white wine.



Cannellini, Leek, Basil and Lemon Soup


3 large leeks

1 tablespoon of olive oil

2 tablespoons of butter

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon of dried basil

1 tin of cannellini beans

250ml of cream

2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock

juice of one lemon

zest of one lemon

salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch

2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan

handful of basil, torn



Fill a large bowl with cold water. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and then thinly slice into half moons. Add the sliced leeks to the bowl of water, swoosh it around a little and then let them sit; the grit and dirt will fall to the bottom of the bowl.


In a large saucepan, heat the butter and olive oil. Pull the sliced leeks from the water with your hands, trying not to disturb the water too much so that the grit and dirt stays put on the bottom of the bowl. Transfer the sliced leeks to a kitchen towel to drain off some of the water then add them to the heated butter and olive oil. Add the garlic, dried basil and salt and pepper to taste. Sweat gently for 10-15 minutes till the leeks are soft and sweet. Add the beans, cream, stock, lemon juice and lemon zest. Season, if needed. Cook on high for 2-3 minutes.


Reduce the heat to a simmer. Dissolve the cornstarch in a bit of hot water and add to the soup. Add the Parmesan and simmer gently for 3-5 minutes. With a fork or potato masher, mash about 40% of the beans in the soup, leave the rest whole. Remove from heat and add the torn basil.




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