It’s soup season! We eat so much soup at our house when the weather turns cold. So I thought I would share some of my best tips for making super soups with humble beans. I asked my friends on Facebook for some tried and true recipes to share because my soup making is usually a little of this and a little of that. I do follow these three principles though and they never fail to make super soup.
Super Soup – Make your own stock
Making your own stock can save a ton of money while making a more nutritious stock with so much flavor. We keep a ziplock bag in the freezer where I gather the leftover ends and tops from when I chop veg for any recipe or veg tray. I throw a celery base or carrot top in there with the outer layers or root end of an onion. Then I put fresh herbs in there if I have not used all of them for a recipe. Then when we have rotisserie chicken bones, a ham bone or a turkey carcass, I put all those leftover veg pieces in the instant pot with the bones, salt, pepper and a selection of spices including, celery seed, garlic powder, onion powder, parsley, salt, and pepper then fill with water. If you are a vegetarian, you don’t need to add the bones. Set your instant pot at 80 minutes or put it in your crock pot or a pot on your stove for a few hours. Cook it, then strain all the pieces out in a colander and collect the liquid. I cool my stock quickly by putting the bowl of strained broth in an ice bath and stirring the liquid as it cools. Don’t be surprised if your stock turns to gelatin consistency when chilled in the fridge. That means you have made a bone broth and that a good thing. A bone broth is so good for your gut, your joints, and your immunity.
Super Soup – The Humble Dried Beans
Dried beans are great in a soup. You can use canned beans but they are always mushy, using dried been lets you control the texture of your beans. They taste better because they are soaking up that homemade broth they are cooking in as your soup simmers. They are healthy because they are just beans, no preservatives or chemical that could be in the canned version.
Super Soup – The Flavors
A great soup starts with great flavors. The French are known for flavor and they have a thing called mirepoix which consists of carrots, onion, and celery. Louisiana cooks have a similar combo they call the holy trinity which has one difference onions, celery and bell peppers. I always start a soup with one of these combos sautéed in butter or the fat left in the pan from browning a pound of sausage or beef.
Tools to make great soups
I used to have one of those fancy shmancy mandolins but I got sick of setting it up, cleaning it and all the room it took up in the cupboard. I donated it and replaced it with this little guy. It gets used several times a week and I love it. It slices and grates and I love the thin slices of celery and onion to start my soup because you get all the flavor without a huge chunk of celery or onion to bite into. It keeps everything uniform and makes the job of chopping veg so much quicker.
If you are not going to use an instant pot or a crock pot you need a dutch oven. I cook in cast iron and soup is no exception! I like to start my soup by browning sausage or beef and then add my veg, then I layer flavor with herbs and spices. Using a big pot like this will keep all the flavors in your soup or sauce from start to finish.
I just wrote a review of The Gospel Comes with A House Key and I wanted to give my readers some economical recipes for entertaining. A big pot of soup with lots of flavor has never failed to please my people. There is something that satisfies about a simple bowl of hearty soup and a slice of cornbread. And by the way, I just make a box of 49 cent Jiffy mix cornbread. It was good enough for my grandmother so it is good enough for me. Just like my country grandmother, I make soups all the time, but not usually from a recipe, so my friends stepped up with some of their favorites:
- 4 medium Zucchini chopped
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 medium green bell pepper chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 15 oz can chopped tomatoes
- 1 can tomato paste
- 3 cups dried beans or 3-15 oz can beans
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 cup parsley
- 1 tsp cumin
Cover the beans with water and let them sit in a crockpot overnight. Then rinse them, cover them again with water and then cook them in the crockpot on high for About 4 hours.
In a frying pan, saute zucchini, onions and peppers in oil until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, and seasonings If you like it spicy, you can add a diced jalapeño at this step.
Then add all of the sauteed ingredients to the beans in the crockpot and cook for about 4 more hours so all the flavors merge. This makes a LOT of chile!
You can add ground beef if you want it to be with “CARNE”.
It is served over rice with sour cream and shredded cheese for topping.
Tanya's Pinto Beans
- 2 Cups dried pinto beans
- 4 Cups Chicken Stock
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 Medium diced onion
- 1 clove pressed garlic
- 1 Tbsp whole peppercorn
- 1 meaty ham bone
Cover the beans with water and let them sit in a crockpot overnight. Then rinse them and set aside.
Saute the onion and garlic until translucent add this mixture to the beans in the crockpot or stockpot.
Cover with beans with the stock and add the ham bone.
You can add the peppercorn to the pot and fish them out before you serve the beans or tie them up in some cheesecloth and drop them in to flavor your soup.
Simmer slow and low. Serve with cornbread and enjoy on a cold winter day.
I would love to hear your favorite economical entertaining ideas and recipes. Please share them in the comments below!