” Soup is cuisine’s kindest course, it breathes reassurance, dispels the distressing effect of cold winter days, it warms up your soul and fills your heart with hope. It comforts you, uplifts your mood and recharge you to face the life once again.”
These past two weeks have been really difficult for me, filled with lots of pain and agony that life has suddenly decided to bless me with. Every problems and difficulties does not have solutions, you have to learn to live with that, every moment, every hour and every day. Emotionally distressed, I could not collect myself to communicate with the world. Disconnected. Even that does not help much. I guess, you just have to let it go, as if nothing has ever happened. Time does not heal the scar, it just numbed your senses.
This post is way to return to my normal life, assuring myself that life does not stops at one point, it flows with many ups and downs. Writing further on this topic will make this post gloomy and depressing, instead lets have a warm and hearty bowl of soup that can fill our heart with hope and warmth.
So here we present winter special hearty bean soup. Beans are naturally rich in fibre and antioxidants, high in calorie and protein packed, it has folate and minerals that keeps our body nutritious, and helps to fight against the chronic illness. There are plenty of reasons why beans evolve as one of the most staple diet for humans, be it for energy or vitality, sugar management or simply because it is affordable and convenient to cook.
Mixed beans were always my favourite because they add variety to the taste and cuts through the monotony of consuming same type of beans for weeks. My regular practice is to mix two or three different types of beans together, unless I cook something very special specific to a particular bean. When I discover this 16 bean mix packet, I was so excited to try it out. This is just not two or three types of beans mix, but 16 different types of beans mixed together in some proportions. The packet contains different types of lentils, garbanzo beans, red, black beans, navy beans, northern beans, lima beans, kidney beans and so on.
Even though beans and legumes are superfoods, many are vehement about not including the beans in their diet, may be because of that embarrassing flatulence, the intestinal gas which causes discomfort and pain if occurs in excess.
There are ways to reduce the flatulence, some of the common practices are as follows :
1) Soak the dried beans in excess water for few hours. Rinse the beans and change the water every two hours. It helps to get rid off the foam that collects on top of the soaked beans. Cook them in fresh water.
2) Beans contains a complex sugar called oligosaccharides which is hard to break up into digestible molecules, hence add something in the recipe that helps to break this complex sugar. Like turmeric, soda, ginger or cloves.
3) While consuming beans make sure you have enough veggies to accompany your meal, it helps in the digestion.
The most appetizing Southern recipe calls for using ham hock in this soup. I have used chorizo as I could not procure a good ham bone or may be I was not searching enough. If you are a non-vegetarian like me, then do make this soup either with ham bones or sausages, it takes the soup a notch higher on taste and makes it amazingly delicious. Spanish chorizo are hard to find, even in America. There are however few grocery stores that stocks imported meat items, and chorizo is one of the most sought after.
The good quality sausage is the key to this recipe, as chorizo are known for their spiciness and distinct flavour that comes from using Spanish paprika in the cured meat. Other than paprika, the one I bought also contains garlic and jalapeno. Slice the chorizo and infused it in the soup to give it a nice smoky edge with robust flavour. The warm tingling spiciness of this soup or stew what ever you like to call it will ebb away your gloomy winter moods.
- 16 bean mix : 2 cups or 8 oz (the packet weigh 16 oz)
- Celery stalk : 1 (chopped)
- Carrots : 1 cup (chopped)
- Chorizo or any other sausage : 4 oz or three sausage
- Chicken stock : 2 cups (freshly made or low sodium pack)
- Crushed tomatoes : 1 cup (I used Heinz crushed tomato can)
- Bay leaf : 2
- Oregano (dried) : 1 tsp
- Cumin powder : 1 tbsp
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Jalapenos : 1 ( finely chopped)
- Olive oil : 1 tbsp
- Yellow onion : 1 large (finely chopped)
- Garlic : few cloves (minced)
- After soaking, rinsing and washing the dried beans, cook the beans in a large pot with just enough water to cover it.
- Do not add salt while cooking the beans.
- You can also use pressure cooker to speed up the process or use slow cooker to cook the beans. I adopt stove top method to cook the beans.
- In a separate pan, heat the olive oil and fry the onions and garlic till the onions become translucent.
- Add the chopped celery sticks and diced carrots, fry for a while on low heat.
- Stir in the chopped jalapenos, sliced or diced sausages, add the cumin powder, oregano, salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir in the crushed tomatoes, fry for couple of minutes.
- Add the chicken stock and bring everything to a rapid boil.
- Stir in the cooked beans, add the bay leaf, give everything a gentle stir.
- Add one cup water, cover and simmer on low heat till done.
- This will take another 1 hour.
- Check for the seasonings and serve piping hot with crusty bread or pasta
Soaking the beans, rinsing and cooking consumes lots of time.
Soak the dried beans for 6 to 8 hours, rinse it and change the water every two to three-hour interval.
Cooking the beans in fresh water will take another two hours unless you use pressure cooker to cook the beans.
So prepare ahead and make this soup on second or third day, this way you can enjoy the food without getting exhausted.
Vegan and vegetarian version – You can adapt the same recipe to suit your diet. Replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock and instead of sausage you can use tofu and greens like spinach or kale. I have tried both the version, and spinach suits the bill perfectly. You can also add fresh parsley to heighten the flavor.