Another post about beans? Well, not really…sure, there are beans in this dish, and the whole thing started because of the beans I got at the farmer’s market, but when all was said and done, whether the beans had been included or not, what I ended up with was a pot full of goodness.
I have been seeing cranberry beans at the market for a few weeks now, and was taken by their ostentatious shells. I’d never seen them before and had no idea what they were like, but I’m a sucker for pretty produce, so I grabbed a few handfuls. After visiting a few other stalls, I ended up with a bagful of soup makings.
Cranberry beans, I read, are mild in flavor and can have a nutty taste. You prepare them like any other bean, bringing them to a simmer and cooking until tender. Easy enough.
My goal was to make a soup that had both the waning flavors of summer, and the newly arrived flavors of fall. Basically, I was able to clean out all my produce bins. I love dishes like that.
Spicy Vegetable Soup
3/4 pound unshelled cranberry beans (I forgot to measure the yield)
3 small Yukon gold potatoes
1 small fennel bulb
3 baby carrots
1 stalk celery
1 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1 ear of corn
1 purple bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
3 hot peppers
2 tomatoes, seeded
6 cups chicken stock
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Shell the beans. In a small pot, add beans and enough water to cover them. Let simmer uncovered until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and reserve. (And don’t be alarmed that they turn an odd shade or grayish-purple when cooked.) If you can’t find cranberry beans, just substitute with your favorite kind.
Remove the corn kernels from the cob, mince garlic, and chop all other produce into a large dice. (Try to keep pieces approximately the same size for even cooking.)
In a large pot, heat olive oil and add onions, leeks, carrots, celery, fennel, hot peppers and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, then stir in potatoes. When the potatoes and carrots are starting to soften, stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add chicken stock and check seasonings. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer until potatoes and carrots are tender. (Time will depend on size of pieces.) Lastly, stir in beans, bell peppers, corn and tomatoes and simmer for another 5 minutes or so. (Be careful not to overcook as the beans will get chalky and the peppers mushy.)
(I meant to add pasta to this, but completely forgot. The soup doesn’t need it, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt.)
Serve with bread on the side for dipping.
This broth packs a little punch (depending on the peppers you use) and turns a standard vegetable soup into an exciting one. All the ingredients contribute in their own way, producing a very flavorful bowl of soup. The beans do in fact have a little nuttiness, and bites including them are very full bodied.
I feel good about my farewell to summer soup. It was somehow both light and hearty at the same time. And I had to wholeheartedly agree with Andy when he said, “I can’t wait to eat this again!”
And I just had to sneak in one more photo of these gorgeous veggies. (It makes up for the less-than-gorgeous photo of the soup.)