This is a lovely comforting soup for a blustery day. I’m all for the shortcut of opening a can of beans but if you’re a purist and insist on soaking dried beans overnight, then go ahead but this soup takes less than 30 minutes to make.
You can find cooked chestnuts and chestnut purée in good supermarkets and they freeze well.
WHITE BEAN & CHESTNUT SOUP WITH PROSCIUTTO
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
3oz (80g) of prosciutto, chopped and divided
1 large baking potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch (2.5cm) cubes
A 15oz (400g) can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
6 oz (150g) of unsweetened chestnut puree or cooked peeled chestnuts
1 teaspoon of chopped fresh rosemary, divided
2.5-3 pints (1.5-1.75 liters) of chicken broth
Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onion, garlic and half of the prosciutto until the onion is soft. Add the potato, drained beans, whole or pureed chestnuts, half of the rosemary (save the rest for decoration) and the stock. I recommend holding some back to adjust the thickness of the soup at the end and if you need more liquid, add water.
Bring to a boil, cover and lower to a simmer for 18-20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Meanwhile, fry the remaining prosciutto until it’s nice and crispy – set aside.
Once the soup has cooled a bit, pulse it in a blender, or use one of those hand held devices to purée it in the pan. Check the seasoning and add plenty of freshly ground black pepper. You can make it ahead to this point.
To serve, re-heat the soup over a low heat then ladle into warmed bowls, scatter with some crispy prosciutto and a few minced rosemary leaves.