Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bean Soup

Meg O'Malley's is a favorite little Irish pub of mine in Melbourne, Fla where they serve the best little bowl of bean soup, the same recipe served in Irish Parliament for 18 cents. They continue to sell this delicious soup for that same price tax of course! Not surprisingly, their well known recipe is closely guarded and that's okay. It just gives me something else to look forward to in addition to warmth and sunshine when I head south for winter vacation.
On a cold day like today comfort food can warm the heart and constitution.It can draw us to warmer climates without stepping out into the winters cold and help keep our spirits full..almost a mid-winters lift. I'm reminded of warmer climate and Meg O'Malley's everytime I make my bean soup. Today is clearly one of those days.
Use any dried beans you prefer. I like to mix them up for meaty texture and color. Of course dried beans do take longer to cook, but I think they are well worth it.
Choose your beans.. rinse them well and place into a soup pot. Cover the beans with cold cold water and let them sit overnite. Soaking your beans reduces the cooking time and helps to break down the indigestible gasiness. After they have soaked, drain them and rinse again well under cold water. Now you are good to go! Begin your soup.

Cooking dried beans:

Dried beans of choice
1 shallot, sliced
2 bay leaves
fresh thyme
garlic cloves
olive oil

Into a large soup pan put your cleanly soaked beans. Cover with water and slowly bring them to a boil over medium heat. If any foam arises from the boiling process, simply skim it off and discard. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until the beans are tender. The addition of a bit of flavor really adds to the finished pot, so I like to put in a few sprigs of fresh thyme, a couple of garlic cloves, a couple of bay leaves, a medium shallot,sliced, a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Once the beans are just tender, strain, reserving a bit of your liquid and discard bay leaves. Now you can proceeed, or store your cooked beans in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Try my recipe below or make your own.. beans are so versatile and may be added to many humble dishes.. from vegan to a thick and spicy stew. Use your imagination!

Making Bean Soup:

4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 medium onion or shallot, minced
2 oz unsalted butter
drizzle of olive oil
2 carrots, grated & finely chopped (I mix them up)
3 celery stalks, chopped
4 cups low fat chicken stock
1 whole medium potato, peeled
2 smoked ham hocks
a few fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
ground pepper

Now in a clean stockpot melt butter & olive oil..adding garlic cloves, onion. Slowly cook until onions are transparent. Don't allow the garlic to brown. Add carrots, celery and cook for five minutes more. Add in the stock, ham hocks, beans, fresh thyme, bay leaf and simmer gently now for 30-40 minutes or until veggies are tender. Discard the ham hocks and ladle out 2-3 cups of soup and the potato and allow to cool a bit.Once cooled puree it in your food processor and puree. Stir the puree back into your soup pot, stir, season and serve. You'll be reward by slowly cooking this dish with a fabulously flavored and comforting soup especially on chilly days like this. Season with ground pepper and minimal salt.. the ham hocks flavor this soup more than enough. Enjoy!


Karen said...

Such a beautiful assortment of bean you used in this dish! Love seeing the smoked ham hocks in there... they sure do "make" the dish :)

Chef Chuck said...

Hi Jady, I love beans, any kind!
That photo with the ham hock look so good I could taste it!!
I think this is going to be in the making!

YankeeSoaper said...

Thanks Karen - I really enjoy good mixture of beans in this soup!

YankeeSoaper said...

Hi Chuck - I hope you try them..I'll be watching :) Thanks!

Jamie said...

Get out! Melbourne, Fla? That is where I grew up!

YankeeSoaper said...

Small world eh Jamie :)

Anonymous said...

Oh my! How I love bean soup with ham hock! :) xox

Kimberlie Reese Denham said...

I, too, grew up in Melbourne and love the soup at Meg'O'Malleys....I will give this recipe a try tonight...I don't have any ham hocks but will use bacon instead. Thanks for the recipe.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to ask how much beans did you use (1 avg store bag?) I hope you read this often, I'd like to soak my beans tonite!

YankeeSoaper said...

Cpicard--hello! Typically I will make two 1# bags of beans mixed when I make this soup, and use any leftovers for another meal. We are big bean eaters here ;) Once the beans are ready I then would use approx 2 cups of cooked beans. There is no right or wrong here. Enjoy!