I think my time canning this fall is already over so I'm going to share a recipe for Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard.
So many have been asking what I do with my dried beans. In the days that I could eat tomatoes and peppers I would make a lot of Mexican or Tex Mex dishes. Things like burritos, huevos rancheros, black bean soup, or chili. But for now I'm not eating those solanums, so I've been making soup. My favorite of the non-tomato based soups is ham and bean soup. Now I rarely measure things out for soups but I'll try to give you an estimate of how this one was made.
- 1 cup dried beans of your choice.
- 4 cups chicken of vegetable broth
- 2 bay leaves
- T oil
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 3/4 cup chopped carrots
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1/4 cup wine or water
- handful of chopped parsley
- 1/3 cubed ham
- salt to taste
First I pick out my beans. You can use any type of beans for this recipe, but creamier beans would be best. Tiger's Eye beans would be my pick, but lacking those I went for some Ottawa Cranberry beans. If you don't have any interesting beans from the garden, your typical white bean is just fine. The Ottawa Cranberry beans have such history for me. They were first given to me by the Ottawa Gardener (I named them after her as they were of an unknown type of cranberry bean). I've sent them to dozens of people over the years for them to try out. Then I accidentally ate my seed beans. I had a few sad small beans, but they wouldn't have produced well the first year. So Granny came to my rescue and sent them back to me last spring so I could plant them again. I love having some history in my soup bowl.
Soak the beans in water overnight. In the morning drain off the liquid and rinse. Add the beans, broth, and bay leaves to a pot and simmer for an hour.
While the pot is starting to simmer. Chop up your onions, carrots, and celery. As you can see mine are pretty colorful, which will make the soup reddish. The carrots are Purple Haze; the celery is Redventure; and the onions are Copra and Redwing.
Saute the onions until about half translucent then add in the carrots and celery. Saute until the onions are translucent. Deglaze the pan with some white wine or water. I use wine if I have it around and not if I don't. Then toss it into the beans. The beans do not have to be done with their hour yet. In fact it is good if they aren't as the flavors will meld better.
After the hour check if the beans beans are mostly soft and add the ham and parsley. If your beans still aren't soft yet, continue cooking until they are. The older the beans are the more dried out they get and the longer they take to cook. I don't add the ham or salt at the start. Beans can get tough if they are cooked in salt, which is why it is best to use a salt free broth. I make my own and never add anything except chicken. (Though this recipe has no acidic ingredients, beans can also get tough if cooked in acids, so save the tomatoes or lime juice until after they are soft.) Cook for an hour longer until all the flavors are melded.
This recipe can be changed around. Use vegetable broth and no ham for a vegan soup. Or use beef broth and beef for a beef soup. Sometimes I use less onion and sometimes more. If you want to make it a very very rich soup, you can add some cream. Personally I like to eat it with a bit of Greek yogurt. Mmmmmm.