Usually by January's end I've made dozens of bean soups. This year however, we had yet to enjoy our first until this weekend. It has been a winter of eerily mild weather. This past Saturday it was close to 60f and Scrapple and I went to the farmers market half dressed in tee-shirts. Finally though, on Sunday, the temperature dropped enough to cook one up. Bean soups are best for cold days when you just want to snuggle up under a quilt next to a fire. They're hearty and filling, warming and comforting and one of my favorite winter staples. A pot simmering on a Sunday afternoon makes the kitchen a cozy spot to read or write and the meal practically cooks itself. If you have less time at home in the evening, you can speed up the process by putting the beans in water to soak in the morning and letting them sit for the day. If you do this, you can cut the cook time down to 30-45 minutes. Be sure to test the beans for doneness.
1 pound mixed beans, lentils, split peas - any legumes you'd like
half an onion
pinch of cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
1 Tablespoon paprika (smoked would be delicious)
1/2 lemon's rind, grated
In a pot, cover the beans with water and add the onion, roughly chopped. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and let the whole pot simmer for 2 to 2 and 1/2 hours If the water gets low, add another cup or two to keep the beans covered. Salt to taste just before the beans are finished cooking.
When the beans start to simmer, make the infused oil. In a small saucepan over medium-low gently heat the olive oil and garlic. You want the oil to get hot, but not so much that it's sizzling. When the garlic clove starts to crackle a bit, remove from the pan and add the paprika and lemon zest. Set aside while the beans finish cooking to let the oil infuse.
After letting the soup cool a bit, puree it with a stick or regular blender (sometimes I just blend half so the soup stays a little chunky). If you'd like, add cream for body or to thin the soup a bit.
Remove the garlic from the infused oil and drizzle over each serving of soup. We didn't have any on hand, but I think chopped cilantro would be perfect to top this off with.
Have a great hearty winter soup recipe to share?