Thursday, October 22, 2009

16 Bean Soup

Bean Soup is one of those "cozy" meals I begin to crave when the cool weather arrives. My method of cooking this soup varies on the ingredients I have at hand. I'm one of those people, the people who use whatever is already in the house instead of always planning my menu ahead of time and shopping accordingly. In my defense, you might be one of those people too if going to the grocery required you to load three boys into the car, then the cart, then the car again all the while repeating, "We're almost done. No, that's not on our list. Don't bug your brother. We're almost done...."

Bean Soup ingredients:
6-8 cups of water (depending on the thickness desired)
1 package (1 lb.) of Goya 16 Bean Soup Mix or 1 lb. of the bean of your choosing
2-1/2 cups of mashed cooked potatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped or 1 can of sliced carrots
1 bay leaf
1 ham bone or 3 chicken bouillon cubes
salt and pepper to taste

1. It is very important if you have dry beans that you soak them first! There are probably soaking directions on the package but, if not, this is what you do: For a pound of dry beans add 3 to 4 cups hot water. Boil 2 minutes, then set aside for one hour. OR you can soak the beans in 3 to 4 cups of cold water overnight. Then drain and rinse the beans.
2A. If you are using a ham bone: Combine beans, water, and ham bone. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer about 2 hours or until the beans are tender.
2B. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer 1 hour.
2C. Remove that ham bone. Remove all ham from the bone, cut up the ham, and stir the ham into the soup.
3. If you are using bouillon cubes: Just put all your ingredients in the cooking pot. Heat to boiling; reduce heat, cover and simmer until the beans are tender.
4. Remove the bay leaf when you are finished cooking your soup.

Bean soup is a very flexible recipe. Fresh ingredients are wonderful but not always necessary. If I don't have a fresh onion or garlic, I use minced onion and minced garlic. If I don't have celery, I simply leave it out or use some celery seed. A fresh carrot can be replaced with canned carrots. Instant mashed potatoes cut your actual stove time tremendously. Bouillon cubes are the way I go. Personally, I don't care for ham in my bean soup; if I want Ham & Bean Soup, then I would call it that. Bacon, on the other hand, sounds delicious! See? Just use what you like. Have fun and enjoy!

P.S. A side of corn muffins or corn bread makes a great addition to this meal.
Sincerely, Sarah

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