August at last! I have always liked August. I have fond memories of the often sunny and quite warm late-August fortnight that, in faraway schooldays, marked the end of second term. The pleasure was two-fold: the onset of Spring and the prospect of only one school term left until Christmas and the long sun-drenched holidays from December until early February.
But for now, the earliest days of August, a new glimmer of light at six o’clock in the evening is the only hint of warmer days ahead, while a biting cold wind hammers and roars; and so we resume our Spring countdown. This is a very nice soup that makes the perfect mid-week dinner with some fresh bread from the baker in O’Hea Street.
Three bean soup.
Don't panic, it’s three types of beans, not three in total. There will be enough for everyone.
Lightly fry a chopped onion in olive oil until it starts to turn transparent, then add a scored garlic clove and stir for two more minutes. Don’t let the garlic catch. Immediately add a cup each of cooked (or drained, canned) red kidney beans, cannellini beans and chickpeas plus five cups of boiling stock - beef, chicken or vegetable. I used beef, because I had some. Cook for ten minutes.
Now dissolve a teaspoon of cornflour in a teaspoon of cold water and add to the soup. Return to boil and add half a cup of pure cream (the King Island cream left over from the other day’s pudding should still be fine) and a good dash of salt.
While the soup is cooking, toast a slice of well-buttered bread and slice into croutons (which, incidentally, used to be called sippets; while the word 'soup' itself originally referred to the bread immersed in the liquid, not the liquid itself, which was potage.)
Back to the recipe: beat two eggs with salt, scramble in olive oil and slice into strips. Chop a spring onion. There's a lot to do, but the effort is worthwhile once you sit down to eat.
Scatter croutons, scrambled egg strips and onion over soup and add freshly ground black pepper.