Seven Bean Soup for a rainy, windy night – 16 January 2019

D suggested this a day or two in advance, after seeing the NOAA forecast for our area, which included a 100% chance of rain, and breezy weather with strong gusts of wind. Time for the official start of winter, I think – though we’ve really been enjoying winter foods pretty well already, at least some of the time. This is a long-time favorite soup from Alan Hooker’s Vegetarian Gourmet Cookery, from his restaurant in Ojai, The Ranch House, a name strangely disconnected from the subject in the cookbook. We’ve had the book since I think at least the late 70s, though it could possibly have been 80s. There is only one mention of Seven Bean Soup on this blog, which says more about the blog’s incompleteness than about the soup.

Here’s my current recipe, winter version (i.e. no fresh tomatoes). Use 1/4 cup each of dried green split peas, yellow split peas, garbanzos, limas, kidney beans, pinto beans, and small white beans (such as Navy beans), used here. Remarkably, we had no kidney, Navy, or lima beans in the mud room. (We had flageolets and cannellini, but those would be an extravagant substitute for small white beans in a soup where the individual characters of the beans are not prominent.) I got these at the Bowl, along with carrots, celery, and parsley, but forgot the green pepper and had to go back for it (on the rainiest day in weeks). Sort the beans to be sure no non-bean inclusions show up. I found none at all today – legumes are getting much cleaner. Wash till the water is pretty clear and not cloudy. Place in a pan with water to cover by 2 inches or so, bring to a boil, boil 2 minutes, then shut off the heat and let sit, covered, an hour or more to quick-soak the beans. Drain and rinse.

I used 1 cup less water than the recipe in each half of the prep, to accommodate using a can of tomatoes, which is approximately 2 cups. That is to say, I put 5 cups water into my 6-quart pressure cooker and brought to a boil, then covered, and (when the rocker started) timed 20 minutes; however, a lot of that time, the rocker was not tipping, so I let the beans go an extra 5 minutes or so, and I think I should not have. They were a bit overdone. Let the beans cool till the pressure indicator drops, and add the beans AND cooking liquid to the veggies, which you have been cooking while pressure-cooking the beans.

Chop – the recipe says “fine” but “coarse” is more appropriate… I’d say “make bean-sized pieces of” – the following: 1 cup onion, 1 cup green pepper, 1/2 cup carrot, 1/2 cup celery, 1/2 cup parsley. Cook in 1 quart water till al dente. [Original, w/o a can of tomatoes in the recipe: 1 qt + 1 cup, till “done but not mushy”]

Add one CA bay leaf or two Turkish ones, dried herbs: a pinch each of savory if you have it (I didn’t) and thyme, 1/4 tsp of basil and marjoram (subbed oregano), 2 Tbsp butter [if you leave this out, the recipe is vegan] and the 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes. The original called for 12 veggie bouillon cubes, but we now have “Better Than Bouillon” pasty stuff instead, and I used 3 Tbsp of that. Add the beans, with their cooking liquid, and cook another 2o minutes. Done!

D wanted a “whitish” bread, and I thought one of the more substantial ones would be preferred with this soup, so I settled on Acme Pain au Levain, which was, as always, perfect.

I had bought a case of the new “gamey” wine D discovered, Copertino Riserva, at the Bowl (when D said he was free to pick me up, b/c I couldn’t carry that much, walking), and – since I was at case-discount prices – added in a Rioja called “Bujanda” which reminded me of Martinez Bujanda. That was my first exposure to Rioja, at Chez Panisse several decades ago, and it was superb, though I heard from a Spanish wine producer that they have gotten more “mass product” to them since then. So, at D’s suggestion (either would have been good with the soup) I tried to get the domesticating-feral to choose the wine, but she didn’t, so D decided on the Copertino. Bottle says it’s 95% Negroamaro and 5% Malvasia nera. We really like this wine!

[added 26 pril, based on photo…] We had another couple squares each of the Trader Joe’s chocolate bar, which I think I remember had almonds in it, and was not, contrary to expectation, especially impressive. But chocolate is better than no chocolate, and this was a lot better than no chocolate.

Lunch (end of veggie portion of the story]:

Excavating the freezer recently, I rediscovered a chunk of leftover beef that I had sliced for sandwiches before freezing, and also some pork from just before Christmas. D suggested we get out the beef, and, since it was sliced, have it for sandwiches as we realized we had intended. We had the levain by (very late) lunchtime, and just used that, some romaine, mayonnaise for Dijon mustard, for the outstanding sandwiches. We had a not insignificant amount of cole slaw left from yesterday, and that made a perfect lunch.

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