This wonderful soup infuses the air with warmth and comfort, promising as well as delivering a bowl of soothing goodness. Make lots as it keeps remarkably well and folk always seem to want seconds, or more, the next day. You’ll need to soak the beans overnight or buy very good tinned or the excellent jars of beans, such as those from Brindisa.
Feeds 8cannellini beans 500g, soaked overnightsmoked ham hock 1 small, rinsed or 6 rashers of streaky bacon (250g), cut into small stripsgarlic 1 head, cloves peeled, plus 2 extra cloves, peeled and thinly slicedpumpkin 1 small, peeled and chopped into random rough shapes 1-2cm in lengthcarrots 2 medium, peeled and chopped into random rough shapes 1-2cm in lengthonions 2 medium, peeled and chopped smallcelery ½ a head, chopped into random rough shapes 1-2cm in lengthfennel 1 small head, chopped into random rough shapes 1-2cm in lengththyme a small bundlebay leaves 10red chillies 2 olive oil roasted peeled chestnuts 500gdried chilli flakes a big pinch rosemary a small branch sage a small branchthyme a small branchgarlic 2 cloves, peeled and thinly slicedgrated parmesan to serve
In a big pot, bring the soaked beans, ham hock and whole garlic cloves to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes spooning away any foam rising to the surface.