A meal in a bowl canellini bean, leek, fennel and noodle soup

by sophie on April 8, 2013 · 11 comments

Post image for A meal in a bowl canellini bean, leek, fennel and noodle soup

It snowed here again last week (in April!) so we’re still cooking wintery food and dreaming of fresh tomatoes and summer berries. On the stove are hearty soups like this one made of tomato, fennel, beans, leeks and wholewheat noodles providing a complete meal in a bowl.

There are two types of soup in the world, the sort that needs a good chunk of bread and the sort that is a complete meal in itself.  This soup is the latter type with at least 3 servings of veg per portion, wholegrain carbohydrate and plant-based protein from the cannellini beans.  As well as covering everything I look for in a balanced meal the combination of fibre, fluid and protein mean that the soup is really filling.

The recipe is completely inspired by a much loved ‘Chickpea and spinach soup’ from the 1st edition of An honest kitchen, a genius recipe which is much brightened by shoyu sauce and a handful of fresh mint.

It’s a very well though out recipe:

  • minimal pans are used, the noodles are just cooked by pouring hot water over and leaving them
  • shoyu sauce provides a complex salty note but with less sodium overall than adding salt
  • all of the ingredients are ones that we usually have in
  • You can swap in different fresh veg (I always try to include one from the allium family)

My version here keeps all of the cleverness of the original recipe but with ingredients well suited to a UK winter pantry, including parsley, the only soft herb to grow in my garden right the way through the Winter. Recipe étiquette is a tricky thing, but having just read Kathryn’s post on the Honest Kitchen blog on how much she enjoys seeing her and Lucy’s recipes tweaked and adapted, I think she will be more than happy to see her ideas put to good use.

chickens in the snow

chickens and snow

Recipe for meal in a bowl canellini bean, leek, fennel and noodle soup

Use a decent, not too sharp balsamic vinegar.  A spot of parsley wouldn't go amiss either but there's no need to buy some especially.  

Serves 2

1 nest of thin wholewheat noodles (about 50g)
1 medium leek
1 bulb fennel
1 400g can tomatoes
1tbsp olive oil
1 400g can cannellini beans, drained
1 tbsp shoyu sauce (or soy sauce)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
A couple of handfuls of dark leafy salad greens
Chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Black pepper

Break the noodles into bite sized lengths and place in a bowl. Cover with freshly boiled water.

Slice the leek in half lengthways and then slice each half into thin ribbons.  Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the leeks on a medium heat for a few minutes, taking care not to colour them.  Cut the fennel into dice add to the leeks.

Once the leeks and fennel have both softened, add the tomatoes to the pan and then a tomato can full of water.  Cook for five minutes, barely simmering, then add the drained cannellini beans.

Cook for another five minutes then add the shoyu, black pepper, the noodles (roughly drained) and the rocket.  Heat for a couple of minutes longer to allow the flavours to mingle.

Add the balsamic vinegar.

Taste and add more black pepper and vinegar to suit your taste.


kathryn elliott April 8, 2013 at 21:49

Oh yes, I *love* this Sophie. Such a clever idea to put fennel in there. I’ve never seen wholewheat noodles over here which can be prepared in this way, hence I use the ramen / quick cook ones in my recipe, but definitely a better option.

I’ve been making this soup a bit recently. We’re into soup weather here in Sydney, with a sudden drop in temperatures and wet, wet weather over the last couple of weeks. One thing I’ve realised, which isn’t in the original recipe, is that (of course) the noodles can be rehydrated in the bowl you serve the soup in. Which then heats the bowl, while saving on just a little more washing up.

What a beautiful looking flock you have. They seem quite happy in the snow, but you’d think it would be cold on their feet and beaks.

Maria Tadic April 9, 2013 at 01:33

I love recipes like this. I make soup ahead and then by dinner time everything is all done – just warm up the soup! I love the idea of the long noodles in this one!

lucy April 9, 2013 at 03:31

snow chickens!!

delightful, s. x

Carole April 18, 2013 at 23:33

Hi, I liked this post very much and wondered if you would like to link it in to the new Food on Friday which is running right now over at Carole’s Chatter. We are collecting recipes using carrots and/or leeks. This is the link . I hope you pop over to check it out. There are lots of great recipes already linked in.

Rachel Dickens May 8, 2013 at 08:55

Hi Sophie! I have just come across your website and can’t contain my excitement! I have been looking for an inspirational nutrition blog for awhile, and I have found some beautiful ones (including Kathryn Elliott’s below) none that have such a strong focus on food sustainability. I am new to the blogging world and hope to use you and your blog as a type of mentorship.

This recipe looks amazing, everything looks amazing! Looking forward to more great posts!

Rachel :)

Michelle May 8, 2013 at 16:50

Love the chickens in the snow. We just had snow last week in the states. Very late in the season for us.
I am a soup person all year long, and love this recipe. This looks delicious. Thank you

Elaine May 27, 2013 at 16:45

Hello, Sophie.

I must learn to write my comments after I read a post for the first time — in this case, 4 weeks ago. On the other hand, a thoughtful, well-written and nourishing post like this one stays fresh indefinitely and is a pleasure to read again.

The other good thing about waiting until today to comment is that I can report I now have three fennel bulbs growing strongly in the garden. I wasn’t sure they’d survive transplanting. Of course I will use at least one for this soup, which sounds delicious. And I won’t wait for snow — I think it will do the trick on one of our rainy, cool West Coast (sure to come) summer days.

(Apologies about your latest comment on my blog. It was accidentally tagged as “spam” — I did not find it until this morning. It has now been posted. Thank you for adding your thoughts, which I value from a fellow dietitian and friend.)

Healthy Food Recipes May 29, 2013 at 18:10

I am also in favour of balanced meal at almost all time to maintain my diet and health. I prefer to have steady combination of protein and carbohydrate. It helps you to stay fit for longer time. These are quick stuff and very much loving ingredients for soup.

Renan Ferrer June 22, 2013 at 20:41

What a nice recipe! Here in Brazil we consume much chicken and beans. Virtually every day we eat rice and beans for lunch and dinner.

I did not know this recipe, it seems wonderful!

I’ll try this one day!

Thanks for sharing with us!


Renan Ferrer

Eat Mega July 2, 2013 at 12:17

The Cannellini Beans, leek and fennel work really well in this healthy receipe and produce some delicious flavors. My family thoroughly enjoyed eating this meal, thanks for sharing Sophie :O)

μεσογειακή διατροφή December 29, 2013 at 13:52

Great soup..! Many thanks for the recipe from greece ..
μεσογειακή διατροφή

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