The Biggest Lesson from the Jules & David Project (so far)

Bean Soup-3

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] B[/dropcap]ack just after Christmas, I had this crazy idea. My Irishman had given me a copy of David Tanis’ brilliant book ‘A Platter of Figs’ and I had devoured it. Cover to cover in almost one sitting.

There were so many meals from the book that I wanted to cook which got me thinking…

Maybe I should have a project to cook them all?

Something like Julie and Julia where a New York blogger cooked everything from Julia Child’s ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’.

I sat with it for a few days and the idea only grew stronger. And so the ‘Jules & David Project’ was born.

Six months later, I’m happy to report that I’m half way through the meals and I’m so glad to be doing it. There have been so many lessons I’ve picked up along the way.

I’ve written about the detailed lessons for each meal so far in my individual meal posts which can all be found over here.

And the biggest lesson so far?

Trust. The. Recipe.

There have been so many times I’ve had my doubts about one of David’s meals and they’ve ended up being delicious. Or better yet, my Irishman and I have been completely blown away (in a good way).

Here’s the thing…

As a person who writes recipes for a living myself, I know how much care and thought goes into a recipe. I don’t write about a particular dish unless I know it tastes really delicious. To do otherwise would be pretty short sighted right? I mean who wants to follow someone who writes terrible recipes.

So the Jules & David Project has taught me something I would never have anticipated… Just because you think a recipe won’t taste that great doesn’t mean you’ll be right.

I’m looking forward to more ‘surprises’ in the next 6 months!


Bean Soup-2

Davids Bean Soup

The first time I made this soup I posted a photo on Instagram and immediately got requests for the recipe. Always a good sign. And I’m happy to report it lives up to expectations!

I prefer to soak my beans because I find them less ‘gass-inducing’ but if you’re short on time you can skip it… David does.

enough for: 4
takes: 2-3 hours plus soaking beans

500g (1lb) dried white beans
1 ham hock or large piece spec or bacon
4 onions, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Place beans in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Soak beans for 8 hours or as long as you’ve got.

2. Place hocks or bacon and onion in a large soup pot. Add 8 cups water and bring to the boil. Simmer for one hour.

3. Drain the soaked beans and add to the pot. Simmer for another 1-2 hours or until beans cooked and the ham is falling off the bone.

4. Allow soup to cool then shred the meat from the hock and return it to the soup, discarding the bones. Taste and season well. Either refrigerate or bring back to a simmer.

5. When you’re ready to serve, make the rosemary oil by placing the rosemary and oil in a small saucepan on a medium heat. When it starts to sizzle, remove from the heat.

6. Serve hot soup with rosemary oil drizzled over.

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no soaking time – just add the dried beans to the pot at the beginning with the ham and an extra cup of water.

vegetarian – skip the ham hock and use vegetable stock instead of the water.

more veg – add chopped carrot, celery, sweet potato, potato, tomato and/or parsnip with the onion. Before serving stir through finely sliced kale, spinach or other greens.

rosemary oil alternatives – replace rosemary with sage leaves, thyme or 2 tablespoons chopped dried or fresh chilli.

different legumes – replace beans with lentils (no soaking), split peas (no soaking), chickpeas (soak) or other
dried beans (soak).

What about you?

Got a project or quest you’re working on? I’d love to hear how you’re finding it in the comments below.

Big love,
Jules x




  • Oo, that looks like the lima bean stew my mom always made when my dad was away (he didn’t like the ham in it). I was so confused why people didn’t like lima beans.

    My current project is developing a meditation practice. Currently working on consistently sitting for 15 minutes a day.

  • Hi Jules
    Love your recipes. With this recipe have you tried taking all the meat out and blitzing the bean mixture, then adding meat back into it. Would make it thick and creaming. I don’t like the texture of beans so usually with soups I blitz them.


  • You know that it’s been proven that soaking beans to remove gas is pure bunk, yes? Just properly cooking them does that

    • Right John.. I’ve still read conflicting reports on soaking vs no.. But I find I’m less likely to experience symptoms if I soak… But whatever works for you!

  • Could you please tell me how this recipe can be converted to be made in a 6 L slow cooker? Thank you so much. Nancy

    • Nancy, it is easy to convert to a 6 Liter Slow Cooker this way:
      8 cups are called for in the recipe.
      6 Liters = 25.36 cups
      Take 25.36 divided by the 8 cups in the recipe = 3.17
      Round it off to a multiplier of 3 and triple everything to come out with approximately 6 Liters.

      And, reliable sources (Nutritionists, Professional Cooking Schools, and Chefs alike) say to soak the beans to (a) make them less gaseous and (b) to soften the outer shell so they can absorb the nutrients in the soup.

      The only thing I would do would be to sear (brown) the ham hocks first to add another flavor profile. This is a good “base” for a bean soup as one can up the flavors easily by adding crushed garlic, kale, collard greens, vegetables, etc, etc.

      Hope this helps you! Happy cooking!

      • Snap! I was going to ask Jules the same question! All that math sounds very complicated! I’d soak or cook the beans (if using dry) a bit in advance otherwise they will only be partially cooked in the slow cooker. I just bung in the pork hock raw, but you can sear as recommended by Jim. I haven’t tried that with a ham hock but sounds like a good idea. I love my slow cooker. Put everything in that morning or the night before, and presto, dinner is ready for you the next day.

  • Looks delish! I’m in the Northern hemisphere, and will save it for next winter. BTW, I tried out your baked bean recipe. I didn’t soak the beans, used 2 ham hocks, cooked it in my crockpot for 10 hours, with an extra foil cover in addition to the lid–and it was amazing!

    As for a project–I am trying to build a counseling practice.

    • Gracie, if you didn’t soak the beans, were they fully cooked after 10 hours? I had made yellow split pea soup and I found that not all the peas were cooked through. A little more al dente than I liked. Maybe cooking it longer is the trick. My slow cooker only goes for 9 hours, so I have to reset it if I need more time.

      • Hi Colleen, yes they were done. I used white beans from a local farm, so they were fresher than typical store-bought legumes, which can take longer to cook. If I have questions about freshness, I cook them with a piece of dried kombu seaweed; it has enzymes to help break the fibers down.

  • Hi Jules, I love all your recipes and have been following you for a couple of years now. You’ve really helped me to get more comfortable in the kitchen. Where possible, in your alternatives section, could you include slow cooker as an option? Something like this bean soup would be ideal for that. A couple other people commented on the slow cooker idea, but would be so handy for other recipes like the baked beans. Thanks! :)

    • Hi Colleen! So glad you’ve found Stonesoup helpful. Thanks for the slow cooker suggestion but I’m afraid I don’t own one and probably not the best to comment on using them.. Sorry!

  • I do like the idea of using a ham hock…would it work at all if you used canned beans? I would assume it wouldn’t need to be cooked as long?

    • Yes you could use canned beans… Just add them in the last 10 minutes and I’d probably halve the water as well… Great idea Marion!

  • Love the fact that you always give alternatives, making the recipes so versatile! Also, made me think about all the recipes I haven’t tried, just because I seem to gravitate to the same basics over and over again. Going through a recipe book seems like a good way to learn about new favourites — cheers! -Michelle G, An American in Derbyshire, UK

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