Not ashamed to admit, I do not know beans

After beginning a new vegetarian diet (and those words sound so very foreign, even to me) I decided that I had better acquaint myself with beans.  And not the kind that come in a can.  But the dried variety, that come in bags, with all manner of fancy names.

Dried beans have always scared me.  Not unlike their counterpart, dried rice.  I’ve long suspected that there is some secret ability to be able to cook such a dish.  An ability that I did not have.

I bought a bag of white beans.  In reality, when I was growing up, these were called navy beans.  Which makes no sense at all, since we all know that navy is a deep blue color.  But whattheheckever.  The beans are definitely white.  Perhaps they should be called albino beans.  Which has a much nicer ring, if you ask me.

I was hoping to try a White Bean Soup recipe that I got from my Vegetarian Cookbook.  I’ve had this cookbook for years, and have absolutely no idea why I had it, or where it came from.  But it’s one of my favorite go-to cookbooks now.

Since our weather has mercifully cooled off, I thought it might be nice to try my hand at soup making.  Soup making that didn’t involve Campbells and a can opener.

And in the spirit of full disclosure, usually this time of year, when the weather cools, I’ve been known to celebrate by performing the perfunctory underwear dance on the back porch.  Because of certain medical restrictions, the yearly underwear dance will not be as graceful and lengthy as in years past.

Much to the delight of my children.

And neighbors.

And a note to my neighbors:  do not fear, Fiddledaddy fastidiously fixed all the loose boards in our privacy fence just last weekend.

Your welcome.

Anyhoo.  I served up my White Bean Soup last night, and every single member of my family (including the 5 year old, whose taste pallet has been seriously maligned by McDonald’s chicken nuggets) enjoyed a bowl.  So I wanted to share it with you.

White Bean Soup

  • 1 1/2 C. dried cannelloni or other white beans
  • (don’t forget to soak them overnight, or else, you know, phhhhhhhtttttttttttt.)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 t. dried thyme
  • 3 cups boiling water

You can bet that my handy mini-food processor got quite the workout, what with all that finely chopping business.

1. Pick the beans over carefully, discarding any bad ones or other particles that are not bean in nature.  Rinse thoroughly in cold water to ensure that they are clean.  Soak in a large bowl of cold water overnight.  Drain and place them in a large saucepan of water, bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes.  Drain.  Return the beans to the pan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil again.  Add the bay leaf and cook for 1-2 hours, until the beans are tender.  Drain again.  Remove the bay leaf.

2. Puree about 3/4 of the beans in a food processor (I used my Vita-Mix), adding a little water if necessary, to create a smooth paste.

3. Heat the oil in a large saucepan.  Stir in the onion and cook until it softens.  Add the carrot and celery, and cook for 5 minutes more.

4. Stir in the tomatoes, garlic, and thyme.  Cook for 6-8 minutes more, stirring often.  This is when the house starts smelling really good.

5. Pour in the boiling water.  Stir in the beans and the bean puree.  Season with salt and pepper.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Serve in individual soup bowls.

I added some homemade croutons by sauteing some Udi’s gluten free bread, cut up, with a little olive oil and garlic, until crispy.  Amazing.

I feel as though I have no conquered my fear of beans.  Next up, long grain rice.

I ain’t skeerd.

October 6, 2010

16 Responses to Not ashamed to admit, I do not know beans

  • Just remember that beans are an incomplete protein. You need to balance them with sufficient rice or corn or other grain. A few croutons is likely not enough.

    If you are going to be eating and serving a lot of beans, do introduce yourself to Beano. Otherwise I would predict a lot of gassy intestines in the house of Fiddle. Beano contains a natural enzyme to help digest the type of indigestibel carbohydrate in beans, broccoli, etc.

  • Truly impressed. My boys love beans. (To wit, ditto the second half of the previous comment). I, however, do not love the beans. But I am always looking for additional recipes that will keep the boys happy. This one sounds like a winner.

  • A foolproof way to cook long grain rice. 2 Cups water, 1 Cup rice. Put both in 1 1/2 quart glass casserole dish with lid. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Then microwave 15 minutes at 50% power. Let sit for a few minutes. Perfect. I was a skeptic at first, but it works.

  • My mom loved dried beans of every type imaginable. I do not. The recipe sound good though so I might give it a try. For rice, I swear by my rice cooker. We got it as a wedding present 14 years ago and I totally love it!

  • This sounds really good and I would love to see the dance with it! Since I’m too far to be your neighbor this will not affect me – but all those beans may give you gas and your neighbor’s will have something else to complain about so you might want to try Beno or something to keep them from calling the gas company complaining about a gas smell. Just saying – You’re welcome.

  • soup looks great. thanks for sharing the recipe! i’ll definitely try it soon.

    if you don’t have a rice cooker, you must get one! 🙂

  • Oh now that sounds good and I have long despised beans. I might just have to try it.

  • Beans are excellent. Good sources of nutrients and if prepaired well taste superb. So stay with it. Lots of superb recipies on the web. Good food seems to taste better when using locally made pottery – bakers, casserole dishers, plates etc. Its ‘green’ and good to keep your $ at home.
    http://blog.sidestreetstudio.com/pottery/6-good-reasons-to-own-locally-made-pottery-3/

  • I love beans! This recipe looks yummy–thanks for sharing! ~K

  • Mmmm, love the beans. I rediscovered the navy beans too when I found a recipie for white chili a few years ago. I never thought about the name navy being a color. I always thought it had something to do with the fact that they were the only thing fed to sailors on long sea voyages. But I agree–albino beans is a much more suitable name.

  • This is my very favorite way to cook rice ever! It takes a while in the oven but is super simple. 🙂

    http://www.kitchenparade.com/2008/01/oven-baked-brown-rice.php

  • Wow. You are my hero. I am watching to see how this diet thing works for you and the RA before I start trying to work on this group in making a diet change. I fear we are much older and set in our ways. But, if I have evidence …..

    This recipe sounds good and will go into my bag of tricks. I envy that you can still stand and therefore cook, justsoyouknow.

    Never. give. in to the urge to sit. Never.

    You can’t go back. Or at least not easily, it has been proven 🙁

    I am utterly proud of you. Know that.

    (I am still waiting to hear from Restore, so you know). But live vicariously through you 🙂

    Keep the faith, girlfriend. You are doing great!

  • Wow! Inspiring. Alton Brown had an episode on Good Eats about beans that opened up my world to the different options. I’m not sure I’m ready to go vegetarian, but I am ready to have at least a few meatless meals a week. Thanks for the recipe!

  • I cook a standard recipe of navy beans (after soaking and discarding water) in about 5 cups of chicken broth with a little chopped onion. I keep the recipie simple because what my family really likes is the way we serve it. I chop lots of tomato, cilantro, sweet onion and lime wedges and place in bowls so each member can “dress their beans.” Even the kids love it (except for the onion.)

    We try to serve one bean dinner each week. Not only is it healthy, but dried beans are also good for our budget. Other bean recipes in our rotation are beans and rice (recipe from my spanish MIL), and chilli. I have also learned that I can make a healthy version of “re-fried” beans in my crock pot and use it for any number of mexican type recipes.

    Looking forward to reading more recipes as you continue this journey and I am praying that you feel better.

  • There is a good looking Veggie soup recipe in the new Women’s Day magazine. It is called Loaded-with-veggies soup. It looks tasty!

  • Easy way to cook any rice, even brown rice: Pick out any non-rice bits, and anything that looks like you don’t want to eat it, and rinse rice. How much you rinse will change the taste and texture of the rice. For rice more like the South East Asian restaurants serve, rinse once, for rice more like the Japanese serve, rinse repeatedly until the water runs clear. (I know, don’t jump on me all of you who are from those areas and know more than I do about it–these are just broad guidelines.) Put your rice (no need to measure) into a heavy bottomed sauce pan or in the colander of a steamer pan and fill with water until the water comes up over the top of the rice to the depth of one knuckle. Put the pan on the stove, bring to a boil, don’t stir. Turn the heat down to a low simmer and cook until all the water is absorbed (for sauce pan) or until the water is down below bottom of the colander in the steamer. (20-30 min for white rice, 40-60 for brown.) Check to be sure the grains are soft. Brown rice will be softer if it is soaked for a few hours (minimum of 3 or up to 24) in cold water first. If you do this in your steamer, the rice can’t burn or get ruined until the water in the steamer is completely gone, so you have some leeway to just let it cook.