I love making a bean and pasta soup because it is usually a gratifying one pot meal that pleases my kids, who happen to be fanatical about beans and pasta, be it eaten together or separately.
This recipe for a Bean and Swiss Chard Soup by Barbara Kafka caught my eye not only for the obvious reason, but also because of an ingredient that I use a lot but have never contemplated adding in a soup: anchovies.
Anchovies are a staple in my kitchen. They keep for a long time in the fridge and provide fantastic flavour to anything they are added to. I usually throw in an entire tin to amp up any kind of pasta I am cooking. I have also used it when making fried rice; now, that is definitely a repeat. One of my husband’s specialties is to line a couple of anchovies over a slab of salmon before roasting, a trick he learned from a Jamie Oliver recipe. Anchovies are really what I consider a miracle ingredient.
The anchovies in this soup took what would otherwise be another regular bean and pasta soup to a whole new level. Everyone loved it. My daughter licked her bowl clean without any prodding from us. The only thing I did differently from the recipe was to add a can of diced tomatoes to my soup. I only did it because without the red, the soup looked a lot like dirty dishwashing liquid. Not really visually appealing, right?
The garlic bread I made as a side is a recipe from Jamie Oliver, taken from his book, Meals in Minutes. It is our favourite garlic bread, ever. Often times, recipes for garlic bread involve butter, which can make it too cloying and rich and subsequently, overshadow the main dish. This recipe doesn’t. It calls for olive oil instead, and makes for the most delicious garlic bread, just perfect to go with a bowl of soup.