Sunday, November 29, 2009

veggie bean soup

It's been awhile, but as of today, I'm officially back in my kitch. I have spent the past few weeks in the Pacific Northwest with my family.* I did do some cooking while there, but rather than exploring new recipes I stuck primarily to familiar dishes (a sampling: butternut squash mac & cheese, miso soup, roasted garlic mashed potatoes).
*My mother was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer in early November. The initial surgery went very well. Next comes chemotherapy. The future is uncertain, but we're taking things one day at a time. Thank you to everyone who has been keeping us in your thoughts.

Today, as I was scanning the pantry in preparation for a trip to the grocery store, I spotted a bag of mixed beans that I bought at a market in Sonoma several months ago. I decided it was time to put those beans to use in a hearty fall soup. Here's what I did:

Veggie Bean Soup
Serves 6ish

olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
28 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 c. dried beans**
4 c. water or veggie stock
1 bunch chard or kale, destemmed and chopped
**Any dried beans will do; I used a mix that contained kidney, navy, pinto, white beans, lentils, and some others that I'm not sure I can correctly identify! Check out the bulk foods section of your local grocery store for inspiration.

Dried beans quick soak:*** Add 2 cups dried beans to 6 cups water in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Cover and remove from heat. Allow beans to soak for 1 hour. Drain and rinse.
***For those like me, who tend not to think in advance far enough to allow time for beans to soak overnight.

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to soften (about 3 minutes). Add celery and carrot. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add spices and mix to combine.

Add tomatoes (with juice), beans, and water or stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until beans and veggies are tender (1 1/2 to 2 hours), stirring occasionally. Add more water as needed to reach desired consistency.

Add chard and cover to allow to steam for a few minutes. Remove cover and mix kale into soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

We ate our soup together with freshly baked corn bread. It's good to be back in the kitch!

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