Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Basic Bean Soup

This is one of my favorite fast meals. It is surprisingly delicious for how simple it is to make. It is also one of my husband's favorites.

4 cups of soaked and cooked beans (any variety, although I personally prefer a white bean for this soup)
1 small onion, diced
Sea salt, pepper, Italian seasonings, I use this, or herbs du provence
Butter or ghee, enough to saute your onions
A little bacon fat (about 1-2 tsp) optional
Water or stock, about a cup, see Step 3 below

Optional: Garnish with cheese, tobasco sauce, green onions/chives, etc.

How To:
1. Soak your beans: 12-48 hours in advance, place beans in a non-reactive bowl with salted warm water and cover with a dish towel or screen. Let sit and sit and sit. Rinse beans a few times while you wait and switch out your soaking water when you do.

2. Cook your beans: When done soaking, rinse, and then add beans to clean water with a little salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the beans are soft. ***Do way more than your four cups because you will store all the excess in little 1 1/2 or 2 cup containers for your convenience the next time. Read this about storing soaked and cooked beans and what to do to keep them from splitting.

3. Make bean soup: ***If you have pre-soaked and pre-cooked beans, you will start here. Saute onions in butter or ghee over medium heat. Add bacon fat now, if using. When the onions are soft, add beans and just enough water (or stock) to almost cover the beans. See photo below. Start with 1/2 cup and go from there. Add seasonings. Simmer about 5-10 minutes until the beans are softened and then do one of the following in the next step.

In this batch, I actually added a little more water at the end
to thin it a little bit more. Keep in mind you can always thin it easily, so
start with the least amount of water you think you'll need and add
more from that point as necessary.

4. Mash the beans: Either:

A - transfer all to a blender or food processor and blend until creamy, return to pan.
B - using a potato masher, in the same pan mash beans until mostly all mashed.

5. Finish: Return to pot, re-season if necessary. Add more liquid if necessary to reach desired consistency. When serving, garnish with the optional ingredients above, if desired.

When I lived alone, I made this often and I did not use the food processor/ blender. I liked the soup with some remaining un-mashed beans in it. It also seemed easier to me because I did not have a dirty blender to clean up. However, when mashing by hand, some beans do not mash nicely (like pintos) whose casings were a little thick and resulted in a bit of a chewy soup - so keep that in mind. You may prefer to "blend".

Using the food processor adds to the ease of making this in that you don't have to chop the onions very small or worry about the casings around the beans. And, the resulting soup is a very nice creamy consistency.

I encourage you to experiment with beans and ingredients. My grandma shared this basic bean soup "recipe" with me, but modifies frequently and has said her version using black beans and diced tomatoes was the best, although I like this version so much I have never tried any others.

One final thought - even though this doesn't sound like some kind of amazing soup recipe since it is so simple, this soup is delicious. It will surprise you! My husband loves it (with tobasco) and our six-year old loves it as well (with freshly grated cheese on top). I do too and cannot urge you strongly enough to try adding this quick, easy, and delicious recipe into your diet. If you have soaked and pre-cooked your beans, this is very fast to make, probably 10 to 20 minutes tops. Or make lots and freeze or refrigerate for lunches or dinners all week.

Version using Kidney and Northern beans without the
food processor - notice it's chunkier
Version using Great Northern and Navy beans
with food processor

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  1. I like this version. It reminds me of a quick meal I used to make for myself...a little thicker beans, and then topped with a bit of cheddar and sour cream for flavour. I'm sure that would work well for this soup, too!

  2. I have a bean recipe ready to go in my cue, but I wasn't 100% pleased with it's texture (although flavor was awesome!) I think I will try mashing it up like you did in this recipe! I' am pretty sure that will make a difference.

    1. I hope that works! I would love to see your recipe when you get it finalized. I am always looking for good bean recipes. They are so easy. :)

  3. This looks great, and so easy! I like to have soup in the fridge for lunches and snacks, and this would be a great addition!

    Thanks so much for sharing this on Waste Not Want Not Wednesday!

    1. It is perfect for just that kind of thing! Hope you enjoy. Thanks for the comment and stopping by. :)

  4. Looks like a lovely simple dish. Just what I need. Thank you!

    1. I think we all need a little simplicity every now and then. :)


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