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Butter Bean And Pumpkin Soup

ingredients

3 1/2 oz (100 g) dried butter beans,
1 lb (500 g) pumpkin flesh (net weight)
2 large floury potatoes
1 3/4 pints (1 litre) milk
3 1/2 oz (100 g) long-grain rice
1 vegetable or chicken stock cube
1/2 tsp caster sugar
2 tbsp chopped parsley
salt and white peppercorns

method

1. Rinse the beans and soak them in a bowl of cold water overnight or for at least 12 hours. Drain them and place in a saucepan with plenty of cold water; bring slowly to the boil then simmer gently for 45 minutes, adding salt shortly before the end of this cooking time. (If you prefer to use tinned beans, drain and use approx. 8 oz (225 g).

2. While the beans are cooking, peel the pumpkin and remove the seeds and filaments from the pumpkin; weigh the flesh and cut into small pieces. Cut the peeled potatoes into pieces of the same size. Place the pumpkin and potato pieces in a saucepan, add 1 1/2 pints (900 ml) water and 1 tsp salt. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for 40 minutes.

3. Take the pan off the heat and use a hand-held electric beater to reduce to a puree, or put through a food mill and return to the saucepan.

4. Stir in the milk and beans and place on a moderate heat. When the liquid comes to the boil, add the rice and the stock cube, stir well, turn down the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 12-13 minutes, stirring at frequent intervals. Test the rice; it should be tender but still firm.

5. Stir in the sugar, a little salt if needed and add plenty of freshly ground white pepper. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with the parsley.

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