As I’m writing this, we have 23 inches of snow on the ground. In another hour I’ll be able to officially say we have two feet. Denver is no stranger to large snow storms, it’s just unique for October. I mean Alaska probably hasn’t even had over 10 inches of snow yet. It’s just beautiful and I love our big storms. At the end of this post, you’ll find a gallery of photos of our Denver snow storm to get you in the mood for some soup.
So, let’s talk about snow storm food. Haven’t we all received bean soup mixes for gifts? You know the ones, a bag of dried beans accompanied by an herb mix and they’re usually cleverly packaged. Some in cute little bags, some in whisky looking jugs, some in Mason type jars. A few of them are pretty good, but a lot of them are pretty darn bland.
Well, with a little effort you can prepare your own dried bean mix and have it ready to go all Winter and I can guarantee you won’t call this mix bland. It’s bursting with flavor and the secret is to follow the instructions for the herb mix. Don’t skimp or skip anything. Actually, I don’t think my current stash has any lavender, but everything else is there.
To make a not quite full quart of Herb Mix for Bean Soup mix together the following:
- 1/2 c. dried parsley
- 1/4 c. plus 2 T. dried summer savory
- 1/4 c. cumin seeds
- 2 T. each: fennel seeds, caraway seeds, dill seeds, cracked coriander seeds, sweet basil, and dried chervil (if available)
- 1 T. each celery seeds, dried thyme (lemon thyme if available), sage, oregano, rosemary, lavender, sweet marjoram.
- 1/2 – 1 t. cayenne pepper
Now for the fun part, the bean mix. Take a trip to your largest supermarket with a bulk section and stroll the bean section. Buy equal quantities of each and every dried bean you see. Don’t forget lentils and split peas. A good store will have some lovely calico beans, tiny red aduki, and reddish-orange lentils. Just grab everything you see.
When you get home mix all the beans together fearlessly, hopefully you’ve got at least ten varieties, sixteen or twenty even better. Make sure you have a container with a tight-fitting lid that will hold the loot, preferably clear, so that you can admire the beans colors and shapes. Whole Foods has a dried vegetable mix in the bulk section. I grab about two cups of it to add to the soup.
So there you have it. When the snow starts flying here’s how you turn it into a delicious soup:
- 2 C. bean mix
- 7 Cups chicken stock or water
- Soup bone, either from a ham, or I usually buy ham hocks and use 2 – 3 depending on size
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 fresh Anaheim chili, thinly sliced
- 2 T. herb mix (from above recipe)
- 1 large onion, coarse chopped
- 1 – 3 cloves garlic, pressed with garlic press
- Salt and plenty of ground pepper
- 16 ounce can of chopped tomatoes
- 2 medium carrots, scrubbed and thinly sliced
- 1 rib celery with leaves, sliced
- 2 medium potatoes, scrubbed and chopped
- 4 ounces fresh green beans, sliced
- 3 T. Pickapeppa sauce (or Worcestershire if you can’t find Pickapeppa brand)
- 2 drops honey
- 1/4 cup dried vegetable mix
In a large heavy soup pot soak the beans in stock or water to cover overnight. If using chicken stock be sure to refrigerate.
The next day, add enough water to pot to cover beans by 1 – 2 inches. Add the soup bone, bay leaf and chili. Bring to a boil then turn down the heat to very low and let simmer, covered until the beans are tender. 1 – 3 hours.
Add the remaining ingredients, simmer, covered, until the vegetables are covered. About 20 – 25 minutes.
Remove soup bone, shred meat off bone and stir back into soup. Remove the bay leaves and take a potato masher and give the soup about 10 good mashes to crush some of the beans and veggies.
This really is delicious and tastes even better the next day.
Bean soup adapted from Dairy Hollow House
On this day..
- Homemade Hash Brown Potatoes - 2011