Soup Again

It’s time to make winter soups again.  The ingredients for a good hefty winter soup are now in the house, and the beans–which always before I measured only by volume, 4 cups for a full batch in the 12 quart pot–I also weighed, this time.   One pound, eleven point three ounces.   Very close to one and three quarter pounds of dried beans.   This is a mix of those dry beans available in the supermarket (no lentils, no split peas), so whatever someone else uses in a mix of beans is likely to be a slightly different weight for the 4 cups.  For a smaller soup, less of the bean mix.  I made a half-soup earlier this year with 2 cups of beans, one onion, and similar reductions on everything else.

This will be, like the soups-new-to-me last year that combined “my” bean soup with “my” vegetable soup,  a mix of fresh, canned, frozen, and dry ingredients.  Dried beans will go in tomorrow morning (or maybe this evening, depending) after a soak in cold water, and include red kidney, small red, Navy (white),  Great Northern (white), black, pinto (brown on beige speckled), and Anasazi (dark red and white splotched.)  Barley will go in at the end, just long enough to cook it.   Fresh: celery, onion, carrot, green Bell peppers, white button mushrooms.  Frozen: yellow corn kernels, green beans, spinach.  Canned or jarred: RoTel diced tomato & green chilis, minced garlic.  Plus a mix of meats–smoked pork hocks and a chuck roast cut up into cubes.  The beef chunks get browned before they go in the soup; the pork is ready to go in from the start.

This is the soup that literally saved us during the week without power below (sometimes VERY below) freezing, last February,  when we were snowed & iced in, no heat in the house, and cooked on the old beat up BBQ.  I had 8 or 9 quarts in the freezer and was VERY glad I’d developed the combined recipe because it did the job for us.   I had part of a package of ham hocks and a pound of pork sausage…that went in about halfway through the week, along with a can or two of diced tomatoes.

Seasonings: black peppercorns, bay leaves, Peruvian Chile Lime spice mix, Italian herb mix.   I have some homemade chicken broth in the freezer, from the chicken breasts I’ve boiled for my diet meals, so that will go in at the start, and I’ll probably throw in a couple of beef bouillon cubes as well.  Exact seasoning amounts vary with the batch, and are decided by taste/aroma.

Anyway, time to get cooking!

5:30 pm; the beans soaked up their water fairly quickly so I started slicing and dicing and put the first stage together.  And now it’s in the pot, simmering.  Not all the components are in yet, but the onions, celery, carrot, tomatoes, chiles, all the dried beans, and about half the seasonings (the ones that need to be there at the start) are in.  I may need another half carrot in…the carrot/onion/celery balance is tricky with all the beans. I’ll give the liquid a sniff-and-taste in another hour.  Corn will go in next, and the green beans a little later, but the spinach will wait until much later.  I need to slice up all the mushrooms.  Tomorrow, most likely.   It will sit quietly on the tiniest simmer overnight, and everything else can go in early tomorrow.  Done by suppertime then.

Had a good fast walk today while wearing a light pack (camera & binoculars in small backpack, heavy new cellphone in pocket, the backpack is about 6 and a half pounds with that load.  But it makes some difference, as if I weighed that much more again.   It started sprinkling little tiny drops, barely noticeable…but when I stopped and listened, I could hear them hitting the ground in the bare spots, and my clothes were damp when I came in–not sweating at all, just “falling fog” type precip.  Lots of little birds in the creek woods as I walked past the east side of it–didn’t stop to extract the binocs and try to see them clearly.


6 thoughts on “Soup Again

  1. I love reading about your soups. Last spring another professor brought his Sun Oven for a physical science experiment when we were talking about seasons and insolation. I had experimented a bit with solar cooking with a Copenhagen style cooker (reflective surface, black pot with glass lid, and the turkey roaster bag to keep the heat in). It was okay but not dependable. After seeing his Sun Oven, I subscribed to emails from the manufacturer and they had a deal for Independence day so I spent my stimulus money on a Sun Oven. I’ve had lots of fun experimenting with various foods in the sun oven this summer and fall. It’s nice to prep the food, put it in the oven, come out every 30 to 40 minutes and rotate the position a bit, but don’t have to worry about most things burning. Most of the time I’m able to get the oven to between 300 and 350 degrees Fahrenheit for several hours. We’ve had lots of baked chicken, vegetables, even ‘boiled’ eggs. I haven’t tried bread, and the one day I tried doing beans, the clouds rolled in after only about 2 hours and I had to finish them inside. Here in Arizona we have many sunny days so I’ve done much of the cooking that can be done in about 3 to 4 hours even in the cooler days of winter. I love solar cooking in the summer because I can bake without heating the kitchen, fall and winter has been interesting trying to get the oven at the right angle to catch the reflection but not tip over and spill whatever is in the pot, so that’s why I haven’t tried beans again. I’ll try again when the sun is higher in the sky in the summer. I had never really realized how the angle of the sun is so much further south even in the middle of the day in the winter. I also feel like I’m doing just a bit to reduce my dependence on fossil fuels when I use the power of the sun to cook!

    1. That sounds like a great tool. I remember making my own solar cooker in San Antonio when we lived there, but it was a thrown-together mishmash of things (got the idea from a Mother Earth News issue) and though it made proof of theory, it didn’t make a really useful cooker long term. I wouldn’t mind a bit having one again, a better design and not something I cobbled together myself. Thanks for mentioning it.

  2. The Anasazi beans sound to pretty to eat! Husband made a batch of our favorite split pea soup two weeks ago. Still some left to enjoy.
    Stay well.

  3. I’ve just bought the fresh ingredients – leeks, celery, garlic, the onion we still have plenty of our home grown – for one of my favourite soups. I have the dried butter beans (I think they are what you call Navy beans, large white kidney shape), and the bacon in the freezer. It has as much of the vegetables as the beans, a lot of garlic and is mashed somewhat at the end of cooking so it’s a mix of different sizes of bean from whole to puree. Very comforting.

    I need comfort, omicron is running wild, my 70 something, fully boostered brother-in-law has COVID-19, although so far a mild case. Hoping very much that my sister in law doesn’t catch it from him as she is being treated for recurrent breast cancer, yes the same that had the nose lump, though in her case it was benign. They have been so very careful too, but omicron is far more infectious than any of the previous variants.

    1. Yes, mine has almost if not as much of other vegetables as the dried beans…it lightens up the heaviness of a pure bean soup, in my view. And I like mixing the beans. I started doing that many years ago in San Antonio, when we were growing five or six kinds of beans, but not enough of any one to make a big soup out of. The bean I don’t have now, and would like to grow again, is the scarlet runner bean–it makes a big, flat, purple-and-white splashed bean with a unique flavor. There’s a bean grower/merchant out in California (name’s at the far end of the house and I’m lazy tonight) that I read about in a magazine who sells heritage beans from Mexico and S. America, including many I’d never seen or heard of. And I found another place online…(aha…found the first supplier mentioned: Rancho Gordo. They have a black and white spotted bean called Vacquero. You can buy Anasazi beans from Adobe Milling in Colorado, if they’re not in a supermarket nearby. Other New World spotted beans come in yellow and cream, pink and cream, etc. I’ve been tempted to buy a pound each of all the smallish spotted beans just to say what the flavor is. These old “heritage” varieties aren’t always available (when the year’s crop sells out that’s it until the next growing season) but they’re sure fun.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.