Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bean soup

My soup recipes are very filling and keep for days. My French Women Don't Get Fat Lady has a whole thing about soups as being necessary for maintaining a healthy weight. Kind of annoying but true. I used to make soups a lot but went through a soup-making hiatus after a very bad pregnancy experience that involved smelling turkey stock all day. It put me off that stocky smell for years. I'm over it now.

So any soup is delicious with a solid stock to start with. This is non-negotiable. If you have a Jewish mother (and maybe if you don't) you already know this!

It is possible to buy homemade stocks from fancy grocery stores, if you don't want to take the time or mess to make stock. If you include the stock-making, bean soaking aspects of soup-making, they can be daunting. But you get used to them and can get in a groove and it's not that bad. This is where weekend cooking, or planning is helpful. There is no shame in purchasing home made stock. It's still cheaper than buying lunch out. Also after the soup is made you can refrigerate it for days or freeze it in small portions and then you have a delicious dinner or lunch in just a few minutes in the microwave. I like to freeze it in ceramic containers, and then take it out and let it defrost in the fridge, when I notice the fridge is looking empty.

I used to make stock with a whole chicken, but got tired of picking out the meat, so now I make stocks with leftover or purchased bones and make soups without the actual chicken meat sometimes. Sometimes I do it the right way, burning my fingers, pulling off the meat, but it's pretty time-consuming and messy. I eat a lot of chicken on salads and grilled, etc. so I don't mind making soups with meat or chicken stock but vegetarian ingredients otherwise.

Bean soup

-1 package "17 bean soup" or whatever it's called - just a big bag of mixed beans.
-1 batch home made chicken stock, salted to taste. big pot-full (store bought will taste very mediocre)
-celery, carrots, onion chopped, about 2-3 cups worth
-1 can diced tomatoes
-huge bunch chard (either big bag of pre-washed and chopped, or farmer's market dirty variety. doesn't matter)
-1/2 can tomato paste (optional, depending on how tomato-y you like your soup)
-2 bay leaves

(Here is how I do it...make sure chicken stock is on hand. Or make batch on weekend.)
Soak beans overnight. discard water, rinse.

Simmer beans, bay leaf in stock for 40 min or so. When beans feel about half done add all other ingredients and simmer for another 25-30 min.

Pick out bay leaves. Enjoy.

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