The day started well. A sunny, misty morning full of promise. I’d promised not to write, and just to cook and take pictures. I’d soaked some “cocos” beans last night. These are semi dried beans that are well known in Paimpol in Brittany and Mollans, in Provence. My ones came from Mme. Roustand’s own crop, harvested late last year. These beans need very little soaking, so there was no need for me to have left them overnight. It acted more as a reminder. I gathered some herbs from the garden, including some tiny parsley that had survived this winter’s depredations. Celery, carrot, onion, pancetta and garlic were softened in plenty of olive oil to form the base of the soup. I like to cook the pancetta separately from the vegetables. so that I can use a higher heat under it. The vegetables cook slowly for about 25 minutes, not browning, but softening. Pancetta and a few whole garlic cloves join the soft oily mixture, followed swiftly by the drained beans and water to cover them.
A soup like this cooks itself. Bubbling away for half an hour before any salt or seasoning is added to make sure that the beans remain tender. After seasoning, I’ll let it cook for another half hour. The magic is that it is now ready to eat, with a splash of olive oil, as is. However, as I’m not sure when we’re going to eat it, I have the comforting knowledge that it only gets better over a couple of days. I could put an immersion blender in and puree it a bit, although I’m not sure I want to. Bringing it to simmering point and throwing in some small star shaped pasta is a thought. Any way there it is – cucina povera at its very best.