Fresh Borlotti Bean, Tomato and Spinach Soup

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Ratings (16)
  • Total: 3 hrs 15 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 3 hrs
  • If using canned beans: 45 mins
  • Yield: Serves 8
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
405 Calories
22g Fat
16g Carbs
36g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

A delicious and easy to make soup which is perfect for those chilly autumn days. The soup can be made throughout September when fresh borlotti beans are available and home-grown tomatoes are bursting with flavor. You can, of course, use other beans, such as cannellini or flageolet. Not able to get fresh, then use a tin (see the note on cooking times below). This soup freezes well.

This lovely recipe comes from talented food writer Sybil Kapoor from her lovely book, The Great British Vegetable Cookbook. This is a book I have hardly been able to put down as it is packed with delicious and inspirational recipes for seasonal British vegetables.

Borlotti Beans are also known as Cranberry Beans


  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 large onions (finely diced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (finely diced)
  • 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 1/2 pounds tomatoes
  • 2 pounds 12 ounces borlotti beans (fresh; 1 pound 7 ounces shelled weight)
  • 2 1/2 pints/1 1/2 liters water
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 7 ounces spinach (washed)
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Place a large saucepan over a low heat. Add the oil and, once hot, stir in the diced onions and garlic. Fry gently for 15 minutes, then stir in the spices and continue cooking for a further 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft and golden.

  2. Peel the tomatoes: score a tiny cross in the base of each tomato. Drop them one by one, into a pan of simmering water for 10 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and drop into iced water. Peel.

  3. Roughly chop the peeled tomatoes and mix into the softened onions. Increase the heat slightly and bring up to the boil, then cook briskly for 10 to15 minutes, stirring regularly, until the tomatoes form a thick sauce.

  4. Add the shelled beans, bay leaf and the water. Turn the heat to high and bring up to the boil (this will take about 15 minutes), then reduce the temperature to low and simmer gently for just under 2½ hours.

  5. Once the beans are tender and the soup tastes flavorsome, stir in the baby spinach. Season to taste and remove the bay leaf before serving.

Kitchen Notes:

If you cannot find fresh Borlotti then you can use canned though the flavor and freshness of the recipe will not be the same. Add the canned beans at the moment you would have added the fresh, add the bay leaf and water and cook gently for 20 minutes. Proceed with the recipe.