White Bean Soup with Parmesan Croutons
- 3 thick slices white bread, cut into 1 cm/ ½ inch cubes
- 3 tbsp. groundnut/peanut oil
- 2 tbsp. finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp. light olive oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 50 g/2 oz./ ¼ cup unsmoked bacon lardons (or diced thick slices) 1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
- 800 g/28 oz. canned cannellini beans drained
- 900 ml/1 ½ pints/3 ¾ cups chicken stock
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp. prepared pesto sauce
- 50 g/2 oz. piece pepperoni sausage diced
- 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. roughly shredded fresh basil
Preheat the oven to 200° C/400° F/Gas Mark 6. Place the bread cubes in a bowl and pour over the groundnut/peanut oil. Stir to coat the bread. then sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. or until crisp and golden. Reserve.
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the onion for 4-5 minutes until softened. Add the bacon and thyme and cook for a further 3 minutes. Stir in the beans. stock and black pepper and simmer gently for 5 minutes.
Place half the bean mixture and liquid into a food processor and blend until smooth. Return the puree to the saucepan. Stir in the pesto sauce. pepperoni sausage and lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Return the soup to the heat and cook for further 2-3 minutes until piping hot. Ladle the soup into each serving bowl. garnish with shredded basil and serve immediately with the croutons scattered over the top.