Bean broth, made good

Bean broth, bean juice, bean liquid. Whatever appetising name you like to call it (there aren’t any), that murky liquid from a tin of butter beans or the cooking water from a tender chickpea, is liquid gold. Liquid gold! Especially, when saved for a rainy, bare-fridge kinda day.

That day was yesterday. A jar of chickpea cooking liquid sat on the fridge shelf alongside a lone onion and an egg. The hummus (pictured) had been eaten.

Depressing. Even by February’s standards. So I chopped the onion and fried it in oil, cos that’s what you do when you want to cook something isn’t it? In went the chickpea juice, a smidge of bouillon and a good splash of hot water.

At this point, I found two wilted kale leaves, which was exciting. I chopped them and added them to the mix, and brought it all to the boil. Taste and season.

I beat the egg and stirred it in, off the heat – the egg span into white ribbons, the soup thickened into a nice creamy-looking broth. It looked better already. Bloody good in fact.

My mum swears by the power of a cracked egg; into hot broth, mashed potato, veggie juices. It adds flavour, substance and sustenance. Mark her words. Try cracking an egg into any sad-looking two-day-old soup or broth, and it’ll revive it into something more satisfying. The Italians do a similar thing, too. Beat an egg with grated Parmesan, and pour it into boiling meat broth until you get little stracciatelle – literally meaning, shreds – of egg.

Serve straight-up with a hunk of toasted bread, and – if you have it – a generous grating of mature cheese, or a sprinkling of fresh herb leaves, or a drizzle of olive oil. Bloomin’ marvellous.

Bean broth, made good
Serves 1

1 onion, shallot or small leek
olive oil or butter
bean cooking liquid or leftover liquid from a tin of beans
a pinch of bouillon or ½ a stock cube
optional: a small handful of seasonal leafy greens, such as kale, cavolo nero, spinach
1 egg
optional extras: fresh soft herbs, hard mature cheese, good olive oil

Peel and chop the onion, then add to a small saucepan with oil or butter. Fry gently. Add the bean liquid and  bouillon or stock, then bring to the boil, topping it up with hot water, if needed. At this point, chop and add the leafy greens, if you have any.

Once boiling and the greens are tender, turn off the heat. Beat and stir in the egg, then serve immediately just as it is, or with chopped herbs sprinkled on top, a good grating of cheese or a drizzle of oil.

Till next time…
Buying a quality, well-cared-for chicken might be expensive, but poaching it is a good way to get more for your money. Reserve the broth for delicious last-minute soups like this one. Recipe here.
For more on cooking beans and re-using the broth, click here.