When my kids and I first took a look at Bob’s Red Mill’s 13-bean soup mix, we were incredibly curious. There aren’t really thirteen different kinds of beans, are there? If there are, we sure couldn’t name them all. So before we started cooking, we lined them up to look at them all. And yes, there are really thirteen in there. Count ‘em: Navy beans, black beans, red beans, pinto beans, baby lima beans, large lima beans, garbanzo beans, Great Northern beans, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, yellow split peas, green split peas, and lentils.
Sometimes on a cold or rainy day we’ll make a bean soup and it will turn out heavy and dark. But we wanted this bean soup to have more of a cheerful, party-worthy feel to it. So we made it into what we call “Fiesta Bean Soup” – topped with bright green cilantro and crispy tortilla strips – and we served it with homemade guacamole and chips. It’s hearty, but not too heavy, and our kids decided it was actually thirteen times better than any other soup we’ve ever made.
Fiesta Bean Soup
- 1 package (1 pound 13 oz.) Bob’s Red Mill 13 Bean Soup Mix
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 large Yellow Onion, chopped
- 3 Carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 rib Celery, chopped
- 2 cloves Garlic, minced
- 3 1/2 quarts Water
- Large Ham Hock
- 1 6-ounce can Tomato Paste
- 2 Tbsp Chili Powder
- 2 tsp ground Cumin
- 1 tsp ground Coriander
- 2 large Anaheim Chili Peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded, and chopped
- 2 tsp Salt
- 1 large bunch fresh Cilantro, coarsely chopped
- Tortilla Strips
1. Rinse and sort the beans, removing any debris, then place the beans in a large pot and cover them with water. Let the beans soak overnight. In the morning, rinse and drain the beans and set them aside.
2. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery, and saute, stirring regularly, until the onions are translucent and the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook about one minute more.
3. Add the beans, water, and ham hock to the vegetable mixture; bring to a boil. Stir in the tomato paste until dissolved; add the spices, chopped pepper, and salt.
4. Reduce heat to a simmer and allow the stew to cook, uncovered, for 3 1/2 to 4 hours or until the beans are soft, adding more water if necessary to keep the consistency soup-like. Depending on the saltiness of the ham, the soup may need more salt; add salt to taste if necessary. Remove the ham bones from the soup.
5. Serve in bowls garnished with cilantro and tortilla chips. Serves 8 to 10.
Jeanne Ponessa Fratello is the author of The Jolly Tomato, a blog focusing on kids’ nutrition. A former journalist, she spent the summer traveling to farms and factories to explore how “real food” is made. http://www.jollytomato.com