WHITE BEAN & SPINACH SOUP WITH POLENTA FINGERS
SERVES 4 PREP 15 MINUTES + 1 HOUR TO CHILL COOK 40 MINUTES $3.50 A SERVE
3 large vegetable stock cubes 2/3 cup instant polenta 15g butter, chopped 1/3 cup grated parmesan or tasty cheese 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary 1 tablespoon finely chopped oregano ¼ cup plain flour 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, plus extra 1 leek, pale section only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced 4 cloves garlic, crushed 2 medium potatoes, peeled, chopped 2 x 400g cans cannellini beans, rinsed 100g baby spinach leaves
STEP 1 Grease and line base and sides of a 26cm x 16cm slice pan with baking paper. Place 1 stock cube and 22/3 cups water in a large saucepan over moderate heat; bring to a simmer. Slowly whisk in polenta until combined. Cook, whisking, for 5 minutes or until polenta is thick and comes away from sides of pan. Remove from heat.
STEP 2 Stir in butter, cheese and half the herbs. Season. Spoon into prepared pan; level surface. Cool slightly. Cover with plastic wrap. Chill for 1 hour or until firm. Cut into 16 pieces. Place flour in a shallow bowl. Toss polenta fingers in flour to coat.
STEP 3 Meanwhile, heat oil in a large heavybased saucepan over moderate heat. Add leek and garlic; cook and stir for 5 minutes or until soft. Add potato and beans; cook and stir for 1 minute or until combined. Add remaining crumbled stock cubes, herbs and 1.25 litres (5 cups) water. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low; cover. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add spinach; simmer for 2 minutes or until it wilts.
STEP 4 Heat extra oil (3cm depth) in a large deep frying pan over moderately high heat. Shallow-fry polenta, in batches, for 3 minutes or until golden. Drain on paper towels. If necessary, reheat oil for each batch. Serve soup with polenta fingers.