Hearty Mixed Bean Soup

October 23, 2009 · 3 comments

filed in: Main Courses,Pork,Soups/Stews,Vegetables

Hearty Mixed Bean Soup

Autumn has finally arrived here in Florida — not a moment too soon as far as I’m concerned — and my mind is turning to soups, stews, and other hearty fare. I’ve always been a fan of beans. However, my love affair with them really took off when I was a struggling graduate student and any method that allowed me both to eat and stay within my meager budget was grabbed like a lifeline. Hearty bean soups offered one delicious, full-of-goodness solution to my budget crisis then, and I’ve been cooking them regularly ever since.

The following is not a fancy-pants bean soup but rather the most basic of basic varieties: a medley of different beans flavored with onions, celery, red pepper, garlic, tomatoes, and a splash of balsamic vinegar for extra zip. Virtually any combination of dried beans and/or pulses works well for this soup, including white, navy, pinto, kidney, red, black, cannellini, fava, split pea, lentil, chickpea, black-eyed pea, cow pea, flageolet, azuki (adzuki, aduki), lima, and cranberry beans, among others. Paired with good quality bread and a salad, this budget-minded soup make a vitamin- and protein-rich meal.

ingredients

1 pound of assorted dried beans  (a 1 pound bag of 15-variety dried beans works well)
2 1/2 quarts water
1 bay leaf
1 meaty ham hock (approximately 1/2 pound) or more
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped (approximately 2 cups)
3 medium garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed
2 cups coarsely chopped celery
3 large carrots, cut into 1/2″ cubes (approximately 2 cups)
2 pounds fresh tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped (or 2 15-ounce cans chopped tomatoes)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste

preparation

  1. Rinse beans well, drain, and place in a large stock pot.   Add water, cover, and allow to soak at room temperature for at least 6 hours or overnight.  Alternatively, you can immediately boil the beans on high for 2 minutes, remove the stock pot from the burner, and set it aside for one hour before proceeding with the next step of the recipe.
  2. Add ham hock and bay leaf to stock pot, cover, and simmer until the beans are just tender, approximately 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Separately, in a large frying pan, sauté onions and garlic on medium heat for 2 minutes or until wilted. Add celery and sauté for an additional 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and carrots; sauté for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add frying pan contents, crushed red pepper, and vinegar to stock pot and simmer for an additional 30-45 minutes, adding water, if necessary, to achieve the soup consistency you prefer. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Remove bones, if preferred. Serves 8 as a main course.

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{ 3 Comments...read them below or add one }

kasia November 16, 2011 at 4:01 pm

I am writing this review while eating this soup. IT IS OUTSTANDING! I am a soup person and this one is definitely one of the best I ever ate. I did not have the ham and used 3 chicken drumsticks and then added 3 pieces of bacon to the pen when I sautéed onion. DELICIOUS!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS RECIPE!

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Maria December 1, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Looks so comforting and delicious!

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Suzanne December 1, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Yum, Yum! Beans have always been a staple in our diet, so why haven’t I ever thought of such a great combination of flavors?! When my husband and I got married and combined our households some friends of ours helped us move. They said they had never seen so much peanut butter and beans! Well, he was so tight he squeaked and I was just broke. We must have had 20lbs of beans and 5lbs of peanut butter. And we both still love and appreciate them both today.

Thanks for a great recipe and a reminder of how simple foods can be so beautiful, healthy, and delicious!

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