Ever stare at a bag of dry “mixed bean soup” in the grocery store and wonder if that pound of edible marbles can really be made into delicious soup? By you of all people? Well, you can and it’s surprisingly easy.
1 lb bag of assorted dried beans and lentils
1 Tb butter of olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 bell pepper, any color, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/2 Tb salt
1 tsp pepper
1 packet (or cube) chicken bullion
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 cup ham, chopped into small pieces
1. Soak the beans. You have two choices: soak them overnight in cold water OR boil them in water for 2 minutes, turn off the heat, and let them sit for an hour (called the “quick soak” method).
2. Drain the beans. Discard the soaking water. A lot of the stuff that gives you gas comes out in the soaking water. Dirt too. I repeat, drain the beans and discard the soaking water.
3. In a large stock pot, melt the butter or heat the oil over medium heat. Saute the onion, leek, celery, bell pepper, and garlic until tender (5-10 minutes).
4. If you’re continuing the process in said stock pot, add the ham, pre-soaked beans, cilantro, salt, pepper, bullion and 6-8 cups of water (depending on how thick you like your soup). Simmer on medium low for an hour or until the largest beans are tender. (To test tenderness, pull a bean out with a spoon, let it cool, and eat it.)
If you’d rather use a crock pot, add your beans, sauteed veggies, 6-8 cups water, and remaining ingredients to the crock pot and cook on high 3-4 hours.
When I serve it, I add a bit of American cheese to mine because I’m a cheesaholic.