In case you haven’t noticed, let me just tell you that I love cooking dried beans. They’re cheap, easy, nutritious, versatile, delicious, and have a long shelf life. Of course, I buy all mine from the bulk bins at WinCo.
|I use whatever I have in my pantry. This time it was pintos|
small red beans, small white beans, kidney beans, lentils,
green split peas, and black beans.
The thing that I find ridiculous is that you can buy bean soup mixes for a lot more than it would cost you to buy the beans yourself. All they do is mix them for you. WinCo even has a 13 bean mix in the bulk bins. It is actually reasonably priced at about $1.22/lb. But I don’t pay near that for any of the beans I buy. Take the same bean mix, bag it, and put it in a Harry & David store, and it’ll cost you over $5/lb!
One of the easiest things to make with beans is bean soup. While I often cook beans in the slow cooker, I prefer to make bean soup on the stove. This way I can cook the beans and then add and cook the veggies without having to dirty extra dishes.
In the directions below, I quick soak the beans. In lieu of this, you can soak them overnight and go right to cooking them.
There are two ways you can get a complete protein out of this soup. The first (and cheapest) way is to serve it with or over rice. The second way is to add meat to it. Ham, bacon, or sausage would make a great addition. The last time I made this soup, I served it with bacon that I had found on sale a while ago and stored in my freezer. But of course, I try to stretch meat as much as possible. So rather than mixing it into the soup, I chopped it up and served it as a garnish sprinkled on top. Not only does this provide great protein and flavor, but the crispiness of the bacon adds great texture contrast.
Of course, this recipe makes a lot. I like to make a big batch and freeze some of it. You can easily halve the recipe.
To make this vegan, simply substitute vegetable bouillon for the chicken bouillon and don't garnish with sour cream or bacon.
Mixed Bean Soup
2 lb. (about 5½ c.) beans, rinsed
4 qts. water
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
½ c. chicken bouillon
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Sour cream or yogurt (optional)
Bacon, cooked and diced (optional)
Place beans and water in large stock pot. Bring to boil and boil 10 minutes. Turn off heat; let sit, covered, for 1 hour. Return to boil, reduce heat and simmer about 1 ½ hours. Add carrots, celery, and bouillon.
Bring to boil again; reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender. To thicken the soup, smash some of the beans against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon until desired consistency is reached.
|Consistency before smashing beans...|
Season with salt and pepper. Serve with sour cream or yogurt and bacon.
|...thicker consistency after beans have been smashed.|