Unlike many of the wonderful food bloggers out there, I don't like to bake. I used to. When I was younger a cold, snowy day always drove me into the kitchen to bake some cookies or a cake. Age, weight and laziness has replaced this drive with another - soup! This weekend has been miserably cold and snowy so it was a perfect time for soup. Since DH has a cold I decided I would make him some home-made chicken noodle soup. After thawing out a pint of chicken stock I discovered nary a piece of chicken meat in the entire house. No problem - I've got vegetables languishing in the refrigerator from my party, dried beans, pasta, and rice. I had already thawed out the stock so I was good to go.
Unfortunately neither of us wanted broccoli or cauliflower soup, so it looked like the winner was bean soup. I know that I've posted my bean soup recipe before, but since I know most people never look at the archives and since I was too lazy to go look for it to link it here, and since I knew this bean soup was going to be a little different, I decided just to fly with it so you can see the steps I took to give us something good to eat today.
As I've said before, I use as many types of legumes I can get my hands on. Any single type of bean is boring to my palate and I've found the texture and flavor is much improved with this technique. Nyda Gleason is the one who taught me to "de-gas" my beans with baking soda. This is easy - you just cover your beans with water, throw in about a tablespoon of baking soda and bring it to a boil. It will boil up some nasty looking foam, but that's OK as you'll be pouring that off.
Do this three or four times rinsing the beans after every boil. Then on the last one, rinse the beans well. You'll pour off all of the husks.
Be sure and pour it through your colander. You don't want to clog your drains with this crap.
Now it's time to start the fun stuff. I always make any soup using The Holy Trinity - Carrots, Onions and Celery. It turned out I didn't have any celery so I just had the carrots and onion say an extra Hail Mary and threw them in the pot with the beans. Next came my stock which, of course, wasn't enough to fill the pot so I added some water and a beef bouillon cube. (This is bean soup not chicken noodle soup - I wanted a deeper flavor.)
Next came my second "Holy Trinity" - Bay Leaf, Salt and Pepper. I really like that Crazy Mixed-Up Pepper. Don't know what all is in it, but I like the flavors.
Another thorough look through the freezers confirmed my suspicion that I didn't have any smoked ham hocks. No problem. I've made bean soup using kielbasa, ring bologna, even hot dogs. The only thing I don't put in is bacon. That shit is just nasty when you bite into it while eating your soup. (By the way, Nyda used to throw a stick of butter in her bean soup... just thought I'd throw that in.... .) The only acceptable meat I found was half a stick of Summer Sausage (left over from the party). So, in it goes!
I also had a package of Baby Bella Mushrooms that desperately needed used. Even though I've never added mushrooms before I had to either use them or lose them, so in they went.
That's it. All it needed now was time to cook. I left it on low for about four hours, nursed DH with herbal tea, played a little Pogo - it doesn't get any easier than this! When dinner time came, DH decided he was hungry for spaghetti, so I put the soup in the fridge. All soup tastes better the next day anyway.
Today I made some Jiffy Mix cornbread to go with the soup. The verdict? Well, the mushrooms gave it a beautiful deep brown color along with a nice "earthy" taste, but I don't think I'll routinely add them to bean soup. The Summer Sausage was OK, but wieners probably would have been better with the ham hock being the best. I missed the flavor of the celery too. But, all in all, it was pretty good soup.
As I've said before, you can make (literally) anything into soup. Paired with sweet cornbread this was a wonderful meal to eat while watching the snow fly.