I was reading the winter issue of Edible Boston, and there was an article about Baer's Best, a local grower of dried beans. And even better, it mentioned they're sold at Idylwilde Farm, a place I frequently shop! So I headed out and bought myself some beans. There were plenty of varieties to chose from, and I decided on the mixed bag of Heirloom Bean Soup.
Isn't it pretty? How could I resist?
There was a recipe on the back of the bag that I used for a jumping off point. I added some ingredients based on what was in my fridge. Here's my version of the recipe:
Heirloom Bean Soup
1 lb mixed dried beans
Lots of water (see recipe)
1 Tbsp salt
1 ham hock or 1/4 lb finely diced ham
1 large onion, diced
1 or 2 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes (I used two cans, but thought it turned out a little too tomato-y, so you might just want to start with one can)
1 parsnip, peeled and sliced
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
Juice of one lemon
Pepper to taste
Wash the beans, then place in a pot with 4 cups of water and 1 Tbsp salt. Let stand overnight.
The next day, drain the beans. Return beans to the pot and add 8 cups water. Add the diced onion and ham hock or diced ham. Simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, adding more water as necessary if the water level starts getting low. Over the entire course of cooking, I added about 5 more cups of water, so you might need to add quite a bit more than the initial 8 cups.
If you used a ham hock, take the bone out of the soup, pick off any meat, and return the meat to the soup. Discard the bone.
Add remaining ingredients and simmer until carrots and parsnips are tender, about 45 minutes, adding more water if the soup is too thick for you.
The end result was outstanding! Bean soups take a lot of time, but my husband and I both love them so every once in a while, it's worth the effort. One of my kids even ate quite a bit of this soup, and since neither of them ever eat anything new, it was pretty exciting!
And I went back to the store and bought 3 more bags of beans: one bag of black beans, one bag of split peas, and of course another bag of the Heirloom Soup beans. Delightful! Plenty more soups in our future!