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Celery, bacon and butterbean soup

publication date: Nov 24, 2011
author/source: Fiona Beckett
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Bunches of celery are one of the great food bargains - you can pick them up for as little as 50p when they’re reduced and not more than twice that when they’re fresh. They last for 5 or 6 days and you can get several different meals out of them (see below). And celery is unbelievably low in calories - just 6 calories per 80g serving!

Serves: 4 or 2 as a main meal
Time: about 4 minutes
Cost: about 50p-£1 a head

3 slices streaky bacon or 75g bacon bits
2 tbsp vegetable oil or other cooking oil
1 medium to large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 a head of celery (about 5-6 stalks) washed, trimmed and finely sliced + any celery leaves
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed (optional)
400g can of butter beans, rinsed and drained
600ml (about 3 mugfuls) vegetable stock made with a stock cube or 2 rounded tsp vegetable bouillon powder
Salt and pepper

Cut any excess fat off the bacon or bacon pieces (not all of it - just any particularly fatty bits) and chop into small pieces. Heat the oil over a low to moderate heat in a large, lidded pan. Add the chopped bacon and fry for a minute or two till the fat starts to run then add the onion and celery, stir, put a lid on the pan, turn the heat down and cook slowly for 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Add the crushed garlic, if using half way through. When the vegetables are soft, remove the pan lid, add the butterbeans and stock, turn the heat up and bring to the boil. Turn the heat right down again, replace the lid and simmer for about half an hour until the vegetables are completely soft. Check seasoning - there should be enough salt but you’ll need some pepper. If the celery came with its own leaves chop up a small handful and add them to the soup just before serving.


Other uses for celery:

* Add to any crunchy salad or stir into a shop-bought coleslaw

* Chop up finely and cook in a little olive oil along with some finely chopped onion and carrot as the base of a bolognese or stew

* Cut into strips and dunk into hummus or other dips

* Eat raw with an apple and a chunk of cheddar or with some blue cheese

* Finely chop and add to a tuna sandwich filling

* Slice and cook slowly with a chopped onion and some meaty stock (1 tsp of Marmite stirred into 225ml/1 mugful of boiling water) for about 45 minutes. Serve as a vegetable with a roast, stew or sausages



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