trendy bean soup photo by vsimon
How many food trends can you fit into a bowl? Let’s count.
- Backyard gardening.
- Low carbon.
- Heritage seeds.
- Naturally nutritious.
- Food is the new health insurance.
- Gluten free.
- Make ahead meals.
OK, that is enough for one abundant bowl of bean soup.
We grew many beans this year in our back yard garden. You can’t get any more local than that. Pesticide free and organic, there was plenty to share with the bugs. Together these trends lead to another -> low carbon.
The seeds are saved year to year, from an old heritage line.
Plain old beans are naturally nutritious. You couldn’t pack more fiber in if you tried. And are great sources of many vitamins and minerals, no need to add more. This type of food makes the best health insurance.
Beans are inherently gluten free and frugal. They might be the definition of frugal in a dictionary somewhere. Ours were free!
They are mostly scarlet and pink lady runner beans, with a few coco rubicos thrown in. We grow them on 7’ tee-pees, hummingbirds buzz and hover from one to another all summer long.
These colorful beans cook to a lovely coco brown.
scarlet runner dry bean photo by vsimon
How to cook beans
The traditional way to cook dry beans is to soak overnight in a large amount of water. The beans swell and double in size, or more.
In the morning you can drain the water and add fresh, or not. Some say draining gets rid of the trouble makers in the GI compliant department.
Bring the beans and water to a simmer and cook until they are soft. How long to cook beans varies on the size, age, and type of bean. This could take an hour or more. Skim off any foam that forms. You’ll have to do this several times.
The runner beans are very large, the size of a butter bean or big lima. The coco rubicos are half as big. If the little ones fall apart by the time the big ones were done, no worries.
coco rubico dry bean photo by vsimon
I wanted to pressure cook this soup and hadn’t soaked the beans overnight. So I quick soaked these beans. That means to cook for a little bit, then let them sit, and swell.
Put the beans in the cooker and see how far they come up the side. Then add water to a level two times higher than the beans.
Make sure you have a large enough pressure cooker. Foam can plug the safety vents. Don’t fill a pressure cooker more than half full with beans and water.
Bring them to pressure and cook for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, and leave the cooker on the burner. Allow the pressure to release naturally (slowly). You can achieve in one hour what an overnight soak would accomplish.
After the quick soak, I added a bit more water. Enough to so there were equal layers of the plump beans and water above them.
Then I cooked these for only 15 minutes. I quickly released the pressure to see if they were tender, they were. If they weren’t, I’d lock the lid back on, bring to pressure, and cook a bit longer.
pink lady runner dry bean photo by vsimon
Cook without a recipe
I could write a recipe for this soup, but I am not sure know how useful it would be to you. You only need to follow the general cooking instructions above.
Or follow the specific instructions on the package of beans you buy. There are many, many kinds to try.
You can add onions, celery, and carrots to the mix while you cook it. When it is done, puree it smooth, or chunky. Or leave it brothy.
There are many seasoning suggestions beyond salt and pepper. Make it Mexican with cumin, oregano, and garlic. Make it savory with thyme and sage. Smoked paprika makes it lovely. Make it Midwestern with chili powder and tomatoes.
*Don’t add tomatoes until he beans are soft though. If you add them in the beginning, your beans may never get soft.
Bean soup is a filling vegetarian meal. Or you can add any leftover meat you like, such as ham, pork, or sausage.
I added sausage and leftover pork roast from pasture fed animals, purchased directly from a local farmer. Is that another trend I spot?
Be sure to serve bean soup with a splash of vinegar! I learned this from the folks at the nursing home I worked at years ago. And my husbands family does it too. It adds zip and ups the saltiness, without ever more salt. I like good vinegar here, apple cider, sherry, or Champaign. Don’t use malt vinegar, it is not gluten free.
Bean soup freezes (and thaws) beautifully. Make a big batch, cool it, package it, freeze it. You can have lunch or dinner in February from soup you make tomorrow.
What are your favorite dry beans for soup?
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