A family staple passed down through generations that stemmed from the depression era and the need for cheap, yet hearty food. Beans do the trick. Oh the flavor of bean soup! (Don't forget the cornbread!) Mom primarily used pinto beans, or great northern white beans along with some type of salty fat to season the broth. Typically a ham hock or bacon was used.
Recently, I found a great supplier of heirloom beans in Napa, Ca. Rancho Gordo is a wonderful source for unique beans.
They have about 20-30 different kinds at a given time, along with other items such as dried corns, grains etc. Being that I love my Bean Soup I quickly bought several new types of beans to try out.
Today's Bean Soup was made with Rancho Gordo's Rio Zape Beans.
(photo courtesy of Rancho Gordo)
Using these beans was a wonderful treat. The soup liquid turns deep and dark and makes a tasty broth. They are similar to a pinto bean but have more depth. They are said to have notes of coffee and chocolate with a velvet texture. At $5.95 a pound I would say that is a darn good bargain!
I found the soup so flavorful that I went to order another pound and they were already out of stock. I just got a note that they are now back in, so I'm putting in my order right away.
I hope you try my Bean Soup and also give this bean supplier a try. No paid promos here...just sharing a great source that I came across. Spreading the love!
1 pound dried beans, rinsed and picked through for stones (pinto, great northern, red beans)
6 cups water (plus more)
2 slices of bacon, or 1 ham hock
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Soak beans overnight. Drain beans and place in a large dutch oven. Add water, bacon or ham hock. Make sure there is enough water to cover the bean by 1 - 1 1/2". Cover and cook over medium high heat bringing to a boil. Add salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer covered 2-3 hours, stirring beans occasionally. Stirring creates the release of starches from the beans which will make the soup thicker. Make sure to check the water level and add more as necessary to keep the original water line 1 inch above the beans. Adjust seasonings if you add more water.
After beans are tender take about 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups of beans and roughly mash them. Add them back to the soup and stir. Allow to simmer 30 more minutes. Soup should thicken slightly. Serve.