Saturday, January 2, 2010

Savory Bean Soup From A Humble Pot of Beans

 Happy New Year Savory Bean Soup

It has always been a tradition in my family to serve beans and cornbread for dinner on New Year's Day. When I was growing up, it was no problem for the eight of us to lay waste to the entire pot in one meal. However, once I was cooking for just two of us, a pot of beans could last forever, prompting me to learn to make bean soup. Well, not so much learn to make bean soup, as dare to create bean soup, for in my kitchen, soup is a creative work in progress until the last ladle full is served.

The beans were last minute this year, so I ignored the "soak them overnight" rule. Instead, I rinsed them very well, covered them with hot water, brought them to a boil, turned off the heat and then covered the pot to let them sit and soften for an hour. After that, I drained the water and added a quart of beef broth, more water to cover well, and about eight ounces of lean diced ham. The beans simmered over medium heat until they were cooked through -- tender, but not mushy. That's it. We ate them with cast iron skillet cornbread and contemplated the good fortune coming our way in a year begun over a humble pot of beans.

 In the beginning . . . a humble pot of beans

Today it is about 20 degrees outside, the pond has iced over and I have declared it to be the first official day of soup season. I took the leftover beans out of the fridge and transformed them into a savory bean soup. As I said, it's something I usually do without benefit of a recipe, so this time I sauteed some vegetables I had on hand -- shredded carrots, chopped onion, shredded cabbage, minced garlic, chopped curly endive, a large pinch of thyme and another of freshly ground pepper, all cooked in a little olive oil until softened. Then I added all of that to the beans, along with a can of diced tomatoes, a quart of chicken broth and enough water to fill the pot. The flavors simmered and blended together over medium heat for about 30 minutes before I ladled the finished soup into bowls for our lunch. We added grated Parmesan at the table.

Today's version of bean soup may be one of my best ever!

But it's only fair to tell you, I say that just about every time I make any kind of homemade soup.


Maris said...

Beans and cornbread sound delish! I might make a bean soup today. It's so cold in Chicago that it seems perfect!

Janet S said...

I think the final key to success which we still need to learn is writing down the ingredients so you can duplicate the best soup ever !


Unknown said...

Cora, I wish I liked white beans (and are those navy beans?) Either way, I wish I liked them. That being said, the soup sounds like a keeper!

CottageGirl said...

Yum! We are on the same wave length ... I've got some left over from the other day and am looking forward to it tonight!!!
Great pics!

Cora said...

Maris - It's cold here in the tropical southern part of the state. If I had ice skates, I'd be out on the frozen pond!

Janet - Having a blog is the best incentive I have for remembering to write down "recipes" - finally!

Robin - I never knew you didn't like white beans! What a pity. Do you like other kinds of beans?

Cottage Girl - Thanks for the thumbs up on the pics. Between the dreary winter weather and early setting sun, I am extremely challenged to find natural light when I cook. I've really got to become more familiar with my camera settings!

kendont said...

Ham and beans are a New Year tradition at our house. We always drop a penny in the pot. Whoever gets it in their bowl will have wealth all year long. The only problem is, it usually sinks to the bottom of the pot. The cook gets it when she does the dishes. I love being the cook.

Cora said...

kendont - We used to put a silver dollar in the beans when I was growing up and whoever got it in their beans would be prosperous all year. My mother had to dish up our servings though, or there would have been major fishing expeditions and beans everywhere!