Bean me, Soup Nazis.
January 10, 2009 5:30 AM   Subscribe

Winter's here, and I have a hankerin' for some good bean soup. Help me out.

I have:
1. A craving for some decent, homemade bean soup.
2. A magnificent ham bone from Christmas frozen in the fridge.
3. A decent stock pot.

I do not have:
1. Much soup-making prowess, although I am a marginally talented cook.
2. A dependable recipe.

I once experimented, with questionable success, with the ubiquitous Senate Bean Soup recipe, thickened, as I recall, with mashed potatoes. I'd like to try something different, or hear about your treasured recipes, innovations, and variations. To give you a starting point I will somewhat abashedly admit that I find the Campbell's concentrated version not bad on an occasional basis. I'd like to make it better.

What are your favorite bean soup concoctions, and your best homemade soup-making tips, techniques, and secrets?
posted by dinger to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
Red beans and rice is a Monday special on the menu of virtually every restaurant in New Orleans, either for lunch or dinner. So, what do you do with the leftovers?

Emeril Lagasse's Tuesday Red Bean Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup diced bacon
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/4 cup copped green bell pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 bay leaves
6 ounces andouille sausage
1 small ham hock
2 cups dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight
1 tablespoon creole seasoning
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 quarts chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups cooked long-grain white rice
6 tablespoons chopped green onion

1. Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over high heat. Add the bacon and saute for two minutes. Add the onions, bell peppers, garlic, bay leaves, andouille, and ham hock, and cook, stirring for two minutes.

2. Add the beans and cook for two minutes. Stir in the creole seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, and the stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for one hour, stirring occasionally. Add the salt, cover the pot, and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the pot to sit, covered, for about 20 minutes. Discard the ham hock.

3. Top each serving with a 1/4 cup of rice and sprinkle each with a tablespoon of green onion. Serves six.
posted by netbros at 5:46 AM on January 10, 2009 [2 favorites]

Oddly enough, I was watching Rachael Ray this week (and I never watch Rachael Ray) and she was making a nice looking bean soup that I thought I might try out, so I bookmarked the recipe. Here it is.
posted by kaudio at 6:38 AM on January 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ohhh we have one we use all the time - we just modify it to work with what we have in the house:

Cannellini Minestrone

* 2 cups dried cannellini beans
* 8 cups water
* 1 cup dried porcini mushrooms (about 1 ounce)
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 cup finely chopped onion
* 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
* 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
* 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
* 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
* 1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles
* 3 cups torn Swiss chard (about 1 pound)
* 4 teaspoons olive oil


Sort and wash beans; place in a large bowl. Cover with water to 2 inches above beans; cover and let stand for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse beans.

Combine beans and 8 cups vegetable, chicken, or other broth in a large Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 1/2 hours or until beans are tender.Combine mushrooms and boiling water to cover in a small bowl. Cover and let stand 30 minutes or until tender. Drain and chop.

Place 2 cups cooked beans in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth; return pureed beans to pan. Stir in salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and garlic; cook 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in mushrooms, parsley, and the next 4 ingredients (through chiles); cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add onion mixture and chard to beans in pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until chard is tender. Ladle soup into individual bowls; drizzle with oil.

Note: We use 1/2 white beans (cannellini/ great northern) and 1/2 some other beans - we get an eating bean sampler from Seed Savers Exchange and sub in 1 cup of those or something else every time we make the soup. You can also use any other leafy green other than chard - we've used collards, leafy kale, etc. You can also use any kind of broth - we usually use chicken or vegetable - you can use mushroom broth for 1/2 of it, but I would not use that for the whole shebang - mushroom broth is super strong (to me, anyway).
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:08 AM on January 10, 2009

I like this recipe, especially because it has both beans and greens.

Since you have a ham bone, I would omit or reduce the amount of bacon, and brown the (defrosted) bone along with the onions. You might also try adding some finely chopped carrots and / or celery for additional flavor. You can use frozen greens instead of fresh for convenience.
posted by needled at 7:46 AM on January 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ohhhh, bean soup is pretty easy.

try this -- start with a cup each of dried pinto beans and dried cannelini beans, and soak them a while in advance (either overnight, or dump them in a pot, cover them with water, boil the hell out of them for two minutes, and then soak for another two hours). When they're soaked, drain them, dump them in the pot again with the ham bone, cover over with water again, bring to a boil, and then simmer for an hour until the beans are tender. Take it off the heat and drain, saving about a cup of the cooking water. If you can get some meat off the bone, chop that up and put that back in, otherwise toss the bone.

Then chop up one onion, a couple carrots, a good bunch of sage leaves chopped up and a couple minced cloves of garlic. Saute the onion in a big pot in olive oil for a couple minutes, then add the garlic and saute for a minute more. Dump in the carrots and sage and saute that all for a couple minutes. Then dump in the beans and meat and the cooking water. Add another 3 cups or so of regular water or broth, bring to a boil, and then simmer for about 20 minutes to a half hour.

Then you can either puree the whole thing or just half of it (some recipes recommend pureeing half in a blender and dumping it back into the other half). And Voila, Tuscan Bean Soup.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:02 AM on January 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm making bean soup right now. 1/2 bag of mixed soup beans, onions, carrots, kale(kale is a great soup addition, esp. w/ beans), and chorizo. Beans are so starchy that they are a good complement to a very flavorful meat, so bacon, ham, sausage, etc., all work well. Anything acidic will stop the beans from softening, so don't add any tomatoes until the beans are tender. I generally don't add potato or pasta to beans; just seems too starchy. I envy you the big ham bone.
posted by theora55 at 8:10 AM on January 10, 2009 [2 favorites]

I love black bean soup, and I've had great luck with Cook's Illustrated's recipes. Does that hambone have any meat on it? If not, you could buy a small ham steak from the store to mix in (try asking the guy at the deli to slice you a piece of deli ham that's an inch thick so it's not something nasty and cheap).

I can't seem to find it online, but I'm pretty sure it's either a 2004 or 2005 recipe. I'll try to post it later.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:18 AM on January 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

How about a Senate Bean Soup recipe that specifically calls for a ham bone?
posted by jim in austin at 11:32 AM on January 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm linking to my two favorite (and easiest) bean soup templates as described here: black bean soup and Tuscan white bean soup.

That question specified canned beans, so that's what I included in the recipes, but it's easy and delicious to cook up a batch of dried beans instead. That's doubly true if you use cannellini as the base of the white bean soup, but throw in a handful of cooked garbanzos toward the end; it's a great combination.

Either of those soups would benefit from a nice hambone, but especially the black bean soup.
posted by Elsa at 1:29 PM on January 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

It's in the January 2005 issue. Cook's Illustrated won't host their recipes online, so I'll post a scan.

Here's a link to a one page PDF. Sorry it looks a bit nasty. I suck at scanning and stitching pieces of a magazine that doesn't quite fit in my scanner together.
posted by mccarty.tim at 1:35 PM on January 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow…and overwhelmingly fine response, and every post includes a great idea. I'd like to mark ten "best" answers. The reason I chose the two that I did is because they both seem to be family, as opposed to published, recipes, although I realize the dividing line is often very thin. I also like the sense of serendipity involved in family recipes, the "throw in whatever you find in the fridge" attitude that leads to a sense of culinary adventure. And they both start with "Ohhh". I've added a "favorite" to every other post, because they're all great.

Things I learned:

Cannellini, included in almost every recipe, were completely off my radar. I'm definitely going to pick some up.

The addition of leafy green vegetables is a great idea.

The regional influences, especially Italian, Mexican (chorizo), and Cajun, sound delicious.

There are a variety of imaginative seasoning combinations.

Thanks to mccarty.tim for the extra effort in finding and scanning that recipe, and to everyone else who took the time and effort to type theirs in. I know from experience that typing a recipe is especially tedious.

Now, winter is short where I live (basically New Years Day to Valentine's Day) so I've got work to do in the kitchen!
posted by dinger at 6:21 AM on January 11, 2009

Whoops, I should add, the recipe calls for dried porcinis, which if you use, you have to reconstitute. We use fresh, usually, just because I'm lazy and I hate reconstituting mushrooms.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:48 AM on January 11, 2009

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