Sunday, April 01, 2012

Hearty Bean Soup

It surely is spring but a rainy one here. I love the rain, love the sound of it, the sight of drops running down the window and splashing in the puddles on the walkway. I'm thrilled that we are finally getting some good soaking wetness after a fairly dry winter. Unlike where I grew up we don't get summer rains so our trees and plants and water table require winter rains for optimal health. Here is a photo of a daffodil I brought inside to add cheer.

One of the things I enjoy when it's raining outside is to make soup. This one, Country Bean and Cabbage Soup, is a family favorite for a couple of reasons. First of all, it makes a LOT! If you are expecting a hungry hoard to arrive, for example within a few days before Christmas, this is the perfect hearty meal to have waiting in the fridge. That's another reason; it tastes even better a day or two after it's made so you can make it before the rush of activities that come with the hoards. A third reason is that it is delicious and used good-for-you beans and cabbage. If you only have the tail end of a ham to go into the pot as I did, that's OK, too. The ham bone contributes a great flavor to the soup. I was out of parsley when I made still tasted fine, but it's even better with parsley. I think the recipe originally came from the Six Minute Soufflé Cookbook, but don't quote me on that.

 New on the home front includes work that Sweetie did today to fit a dog door into our new utility room entry door. He still needs to replace the door jamb and threshold and I still need to paint it all, but it brings us closer to being able to have a dog again. I'm finding it hard to wait.

Other news includes my labors today (in the sun since it rained yesterday when I was making the soup but not today) of potting up 64 seedlings into larger peat pots with more potting soil. Most were various varieties of heirloom tomato, but a few where golden chard and rainbow chard seedlings. So far I only have one lemon cucumber seedling, but I hope a few more sprout soon. I'm looking forward to a big garden and a lot of fun giving seedlings away to friends and neighbors.

Country Bean & Cabbage Soup

2 1/3 cup dry pea beans (Great Northern, white beans)
1 3-lb cooked picnic ham, bone in
1 celery stalk, sliced
2 carrots, quartered and sliced
5 sprigs parsley + 2 bay leaves tied together
2 medium onion, sliced, plus 1 onion stuck with 3 whole cloves
4 garlic cloves, mashed
½ teaspoon EACH dried thyme & ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 can tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 small head green cabbage, sliced in 1/4” slices

Cover beans with cold water and let stand overnight.
Drain, cover with fresh water and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and soak for 1 hour.
Drain & rinse; return beans to the pot.
Add ham. Add enough water to cover the beans. Bring to a low simmer and simmer 15 minutes.
Add the vegetables, herbs, onions and seasonings to pot. Cover and simmer 1 ½ hours.
Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer ½ hour. If tomatoes stay whole, chop them up with a spoon.
Add the cabbage and simmer ½ hour.
Make a roux of 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons flour, cooked in a small pan until light brown. Add it to soup.
Remove herb bouquet and whole onion. Simmer 15 minutes. Taste and season with more salt and/or pepper as needed.


  1. I love bean soup! We've only just recently discovered the wonders of using a hamhock (we're slow learners) to make fabulous soup. Next time, we'll add cabbage.

    Ooooh, or chard! I bet that would be good too. Judging from the description of your seedlings, it sounds like you will have a nice big garden. How wonderful.

  2. Elizabeth I think chard would be great in this soup. I'm going to add some to the leftovers! Thanks for the good idea.
    I do hope to have a big garden this year. Have been weeding and weeding to get things ready when the weather finally warms up a bit.