Sunday, June 7, 2009

Heart warming, stick-to-your-ribs Bean Soup

There are as many ways to make a bean soup as there are kitchens and cooks! And while I have been known to occasionally put a pot of white beans on to cook, in our house, it has always been pinto beans. Not only do they a more robust flavour than white beans, the leftovers make fabulous frijoles refritos (refried beans) the next day for burritos!

Bean soup! Yum!

1 lb (500kg) dry pinto or sugar beans
Water to cover
4 potatoes, cut into quarters
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 to 4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp cooking oil
2 bayleaves, broken
4 smoked hamhocks
1 cup cubed fresh carrots (optional)
3 stalks celery, sliced (optional)
4 roasted chilies (you can used canned Ortega chilies) (optional)

White vinegar
Minced onion
Grated mild cheddar
Hot pepper sauce

On the night before cooking, sort the beans, rinse them, then put in a large bowl and cover with water to a depth of 2” above the level of the beans. Soak overnight.

On the day of cooking, drain and rinse the beans and set aside.

Heat oil in a deep pot and sauté onions and garlic until onion is translucent. Add beans, bay leaves, and hamhocks, then cover with water to a depth of 2” above the food. Bring to a rolling boil, reduce heat to a slow boil and cover.

Cook for 2 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally to keep beans from sticking, adding water as needed. An hour before serving, add the potatoes (and other vegetables, if using them). Soup is ready when you can squash a bean against the side of the pot with a fork or the back of a spoon. Taste before serving in case the hamhocks didn’t have enough salt in them for the whole pot of soup.

Ladle into shallow bowls. Add 1 tsp vinegar, a sprinkle of fresh onion, some shredded cheddar, and hot sauce if you like it.

Fresh hot bread or cornbread is the perfect accompaniment.

Photo by haniela, flickr

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