Peel and roughly chop 1 medium-sized onion. Peel and finely slice 1 fat clove of garlic, or 2 smaller ones. In a medium-sized saucepan, warm 2 tbsp of olive oil, stir in the chopped onion and garlic. Cook over a moderate heat until pale gold and soft. You can expect this to take a good 15 minutes. Stir regularly, so the onion and garlic don’t burn.
Roughly chop 450g of tomatoes (you could use canned tomatoes if you prefer, but the flavour will be less intense) and stir into the onion and garlic. Let them soften over a moderate heat for about 10 minutes, squashing them a little with a wooden spoon to release their juices. Stir in ½ to 1 tbsp of gochujang.
Add 500g of judion or butter beans and their bottling or canning liquor and 200ml of vegetable stock. Bring to the boil. Season with salt and black pepper, and 3 or 4 bushy sprigs of thyme. Roughly chop 30g of mixed herbs – I like to use parsley, coriander and mint, but you could use dill, basil or fennel fronds with the parsley if you prefer. Stir in all but 2 tbsp of the herbs.
Make the soured cream: put 200ml of soured cream into a bowl. Stir in the reserved chopped herbs. Grate in a little orange zest – really good with the tomatoes. Ladle the soup into deep bowls and spoon in the soured cream. Serves 4
This is a good way to use up any herbs you may have, matching and mixing according to what you have around. Any of the aniseed-scented herbs – tarragon, fennel and basil – would be good, but the soup is best if you add some mint, too.
Grated orange zest is a fragrant addition to this soup (I often put a strip of peel into a bean and tomato casserole), but don’t feel it is essential if you don’t have a fruit to hand. It is particularly good if you add a sprig or two of rosemary in place of the thyme.