Back again!

So much has happened since I last posted here.  One big change is my new job – I’m now working for Veritable Vegetable, the nation’s oldest Organic Produce Distributor.  As you can imagine, this has given me access to all sorts of wonderful produce.  I’m organizing my life in many ways, and one of those is to try again to post regularly on here and make this into something….  so here we go.

One thing that I was thrilled to find at work were these – fresh Cranberry Beans.  I’ve often used the dried or canned variety, but had never even seen them fresh like this.  So I recently brought a bunch home and made a soup.

cranberry beans 1

I sat down with this bowl full of beans, and an empty bowl, and the Food Network on TV. Much like shelling peas, you just snap one end and expose the pretty beans inside:

cranberry beans 2

After an episode of Anne Burrell, here’s what I ended up with – about 4 cups of shelled beans.

cranberry beans 3

Unfortunately, after cooking they loose their unique coloring, but the creamy texture more than makes up for this.  So then it was time to start the soup.  With no real recipe to go by, here’s what I did:

mirepoixAll of my soups start with a mirepoix (2 parts chopped onion, 1 part chopped celery, 1 part chopped carrots) and a large, heavy soup pot.  My favorite is a 5 1/2 quart Le Creuset that I got for my birthday one year.  Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in the pot, add the mirepoix, a little bit of salt, and cook until soft, about 8-10 minutes.  Then I added the shelled beans, about 1/2 can of chopped San Marzano tomatoes (I had some leftover from the previous night’s dinner) and about 4 cups of chicken stock, and a sprig of sage.  Oh, and I tossed in some parmesan cheese rinds that I had in the fridge.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer.  No salt at this time because it can make the skins of the beans tough.  I cooked the soup for a couple of hours, occasionally adding more water if the level got too low.  Once the beans were super tender and all the flavors had time to really come together, I decided to add some Rainbow Chard that I had in the fridge.  After washing, I cut out the stalks and chopped them up – added to the soup and cooked for about 10 minutes.  Then I chopped up the leaves and added them and cooked for 5 more minutes.  Then season the whole thing with salt and pepper, ladle into bowls, and drizzle with some good quality olive oil. Here’s the finished product.  This made enough for dinner that night, dinner for me and Creg the next night, and another night, and one more serving in the freezer (how much is that total? 6?)  Of course, we accompanied the soup with grilled cheese sandwiches, which I did not photograph.

cranberry bean soup

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