Cupboard Love Amazing little beans

The well-stocked cupboard can reveal so many nutritional benefits you may never have realised.  Let’s start with tinned beans, which are often overlooked but are both tasty and healthy!

Beans come in all shapes and sizes – from kidney beans, cannellini beans, butter beans and even chickpeas (which are beans, not peas)   These four varieties remain my favourites, although there are so many more. 

And beans are not only a great addition to the diet but are also nutritionally fantastic, providing a source of high fibre, building healthy muscles and are full of amino acids which are the building blocks of body protein.

Buying tips:

Many people purchase dried beans and of course, they are slightly less expensive than tinned beans, however, if you are in a hurry when cooking then the time factor for soaking beans over night can be problematic. Tinned beans are of course easy to use and just as highly nutritious.

My favourites: 

Chickpeas are round (unlike most beans) and have a very distinctive nutty flavour when they are used in recipes. They are ideal to use in soups, and curries and can even be roasted on their own to add to salads.

Butter beans are shaped like a crescent the most common shape found on supermarket shelves.  Add these beans into your recipes to increase your intake of vitamins, minerals and protein.  They can be whizzed with garlic, lemon juice, pepper and salt to provide a delicious easy dip.  Also ideal to use in slow-cooked dishes, baked or roasted. 

Kidney beans are a cupboard staple. They are generally used from a tin and are much easier to prepare than soaking overnight. Just rinse from the tin and are ready to use in your recipe. A wonderful addition to your salads, chilli dishes, stews and soups. Very versatile and full of goodness and high fibre.

Try out this delicious robust bean soup recipe. The beans are an individual choice: choose your own beans to add to this soup.

Kev’s Bean Soup

Serves 4

This is a beast of a recipe from big Kev, our favourite vegan hippy mountain-biking

chef! Much to Kev’s horror, this soup is awesome with crispy pancetta and Parmesan shavings on top.

I use a mixture of adzuki, pinto and cannellini beans in this soup but it’s up to you what you use. Tinned beans are also fine – just drain and rinse them, then add them into the soup once it’s three-quarters cooked so they don’t turn to mush.

Always check packets of dried beans to see if they need to be soaked overnight, rinsed or hardboiled before using. Here are general rules for the beans I use: for cannellini, kidney or black-eye beans, soak overnight, rinse and hardboil for ten minutes; for adzuki or pinto beans, just rinse.

  • 140g mixed dried beans, soaked and preboiled as needed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 small pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 small courgette, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 handful of basil, chopped
  • 1 handful of parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 litre vegetable stock (or 2 stock cubes dissolved in 1 litre hot water)
  • 200g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • Salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Wash your prepared beans well with fresh water and leave to drain in a sieve while you prepare your veggies. 

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over a medium-high heat. 

Add the onion, carrot, celery, pepper, courgette, garlic, chilli, basil and parsley and sauté until everything is glossy and starting to soften but not taking on any colour. 

Stir in the paprika and cayenne, and cook, stirring, for another couple of minutes. 

Mix in the drained beans, then pour over your stock and the tinned tomatoes.

Bring up to a light boil for 30 to 40 minutes until the beans are absolutely tender. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and some more chopped fresh herbs if you want. I sometimes stir in a spoon of tomato purée at the end to add depth and richness to the soup.

Recipe taken from  A Mountain Café Cookbook. The photographer is Paul Masson, author Kirsten Gilmour, available from all good booksellers incl Waterstones and Amazon.

Foodie Lass

Foodie Lass

I am a passionate foodie with a background in advertising and more recently food author (with a range of successful health and nutrition books under my belt).

I spent several years living in Australia (experiencing food cultures from that part of the world) plus many food adventures in European countries.

My most recent food passion has been watching ‘Somebody feed Phil’ on Netflix!

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