everyday spectechols

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beany minestrone

… I know… another soup.  Apparently it’s that time of year :)  I’m cold alright!?

If you’re looking for a hearty but not heavy soup, this’ll fit the bill!  You can use whatever beans you like, dried or canned (I used a combo of dried red kidney, great white northern, and black eye peas) in whatever proportions you prefer as long as the total works out to be ~ 2 cups dried beans or four 15 oz cans of canned beans.  Really it just depends on how much time you have on your hands and what’s in your pantry. *See tip at the bottom of this post for how to make cooking with dried beans more manageable. 

A note on the noodles – I LOVE noodles in my soup, but what I don’t love is how, if you don’t eat all the soup the night it’s made (which never really happens in our family as I always count on having leftovers), the next day your noodles have morphed in to bloated, soggy lumps that are a) unappetizing and b) leave you with no broth to speak of!  My solution = if you are planning to use noodles, make them separately and add them to the soup as you eat it.  This is AWESOME because it allows you to have enjoyable leftovers while at the same time accommodating the gluten-free among you!  It’s a win-win really :)

Beany Minestrone
Start-to-finish (assuming your beans are prepped) 45 minutes
Serves 8-10

Ingredients
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 celery stalks, sliced
4 large carrots, sliced
2 cups dried beans pre-soaked or four 15 oz cans of canned beans
7 cups vegetable stock
3 cups water
6 oz tomato paste
thyme
salt
pepper
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
2 cups reg cabbage, chopped
noodles for serving (optional)

Instructions
1) Add oil, onion, garlic, celery and carrot to a large stock pot over medium heat.  Saute until vegetables begin to soften.

2) Add beans, stock, water, and tomato paste to pot and season with thyme, pepper, and salt.  Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer covered 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3) Add spinach and cabbage to soup and simmer covered for another 15-20 minutes until vegetables and beans are tender.

4) Serve over noodles (I like to use either small shells or macaroni) if desired.

*Tip from Jacqui at sogoodandtasty.blogspot.com on how to make using dried beans more manageable…

“Place your desired amount of dried beans into a large bowl, then fill with water, covering the beans by about 2-3 inches. Let them sit overnight while you sleep or while you’re away at work during the day. After letting them sit anywhere from 6-10 hours the beans should be plumper and the water level will have gone down. Now you can drain the beans and give them a good rinse before placing them into a large heavy pot and covering again with fresh cool water. I never measure anything when cooking beans, but I do always cover the beans a good 3-4 inches so I know there will be enough water when they start cooking. 
 
Place the pot with the water and beans over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Let the beans boil for about 5-10 minutes, then turn down the heat and cover, simmering for about 40-60 minutes. The cooking time can really vary depending on how long you let the beans soak, what variety and size they are, and depending on how fresh your beans are. The older they are the longer it will take for them to cook, so I recommend buying your beans from places with a high turn over. When they’re cooked remove from heat, drain and store tightly covered in your refrigerator or freezer. This may seem like a lot of work, but the active time is really very little and you can cook a lot at once and eat them through the week or freeze them up to 4 or 5 months for later.”
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