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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

17 Bean and Barley Soup

Winter makes me want to hibernate, and part of that is falling in love with soups. I love bean soups and find them to be the easiest to do, with the least amount of fuss. This recipe makes enough for at least 6 servings (if not more) but can be halved or quartered easily. I like to make the full recipe and freeze for a later dinner.

If you purchase Parmesan that's fresh you should save your rinds (once you've grated all you can!! ) and freeze them for when you make soups and stocks. Just scrape the labeling off (the part that gives you a clue if its authentic... you should see the words "Parmigiano-Reggiano" on the side of the cheese. ) and place into your soup or stock. This is an old family method, and I've seen many of the greats use this technique as well.

I found the 17 bean soup mix (which is really beans in a bag) from Trader Joe's, but you can find this in any grocery store. For this soup, like most others, I used a Mirepoix as the base. A Mirepoix is the French name for a combination of onions, celery and carrots. Mirepoix, either raw, roasted or sauteed with butter is the flavor base for a wide number of dishes such as stocks, soups, stews and sauces. Mirepoix is known as the Holy Trinity of French cuisine.

3 c 17 bean soup mix
1/3 lb of center cut bacon, diced (See Cooks Note below)
c each, onions, carrots and celery, or Mirepoix
1 28 oz can of diced tomato's
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp dried Italian herbs (I used a mix of oregano, basil and thyme)
2 tbsp salt and freshly ground pepper
1 leftover rind of Parmesan cheese, with the label scrapped off
2 tbsp olive oil
6 cups of quality vegetable broth or stock

Empty beans into a large pot and cover with cold water. Let beans soak over night.

The following day, drain the beans completely and give them a good rinse with cold water. In a large, heavy bottom soup pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Cook the bacon until crisp and remove from pan. (*** Cooks note: This can be omitted all together for my vegetarian friends... I just did it for some flavor boost!****) Add mirepoix and saute for about 7 minutes. Season with 1 tbsp salt and pepper, and add herbs and bay leaves. Saute another 2 minutes, and add beans. Cook the vegetable and bean mix for about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the broth and the Parmesan cheese rind, and simmer covered for about 2 hours.

Serve immediately with a piece of warm crusty bread, or freeze and enjoy on another day.


Peter M said...

Did you really count 17 beans? lol

This soup sounds wonderful and a meak in itself.

roopa said...

I was wondering how you got 17 different beans into that soup - the mix!

I love hearty bean soups, and, like you, I save my cheese rinds for soup. Today is a perfect day for one, and yours looks so good! (But hold the bacon.)

Cynthia said...

It's only because you are putting a lot of beans in this soup that I'll eat it because I don't like barley :)

Proud Italian Cook said...

I love that nice wedge of parm you got there, worth every penny isn't it? Your hearty soup really looks good Meghan, and using the rind is the best!

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Kayte said...

you make my day :)

Julie said...

This looks like a delicious, hearty soup and perfect for the weather we seem to be having.