Monday, August 12, 2013

Soldier Bean Vegetable Soup

I broke a tooth last week, and I had to eat soft foods while repairs were taking place.  I could sit around and whine, but it seemed like an invitation to enjoy some soup.  So that's what I did with all my produce this week.  I figured I'd use a few items from last week, too.

Last week on my secret vacation at the Hillsdale Farmers Market, I purchased some soldier beans at Ayers Creek Farm.  I didn't ask why these beans are called soldier beans, but today I found this blog post that said they are called soldier beans because the markings around the eye resemble an18th century soldier.  I stared at one bean after another.  Maybe if you're drunk, I thought.  It looks more like an ink blot test and sure some of them could be soldiers, or they could be ladies with rolling pins.  Get some at the Hillsdale farmers market and see for yourself.

If you want to read an amazing book about corn, check out Anthony Boutard's Beautiful Corn.  You'll finish wishing you had your own corn to tend.

Soldier beans take a bit longer than other beans to cook.  I soaked them for about 6 hours and I used a pressure cooker for 10 minutes (which seems average for dried beans) but the soldier beans required additional cooking.  I simmered on the stove top for 10 minutes.  My green beans overcooked because of this.  But the giant zucchini melted into the soup making it thick and creamy.  It wasn't such an obvious way of using up my big zucchini. 

I'd gotten corn at the market for so long, without a problem, but sometimes you get so comfortable you forget to check each ear.   They'd been packed into a bag of 5. One ear had about 2 tablespoons of corn. The lesson--although it looks like you're being picky, it's probably a good thing to feel your corn and peel a bit back to see if the kernels go to the top, otherwise you could end up with this.  It was sweet but it looks as if someone already ate it.

What happened to this corn?

I passed up garlic at the market in Seattle because I'd gotten plenty in Oregon.  I always wish I would have gotten more when I get home and see Washington garlic prices. One farm vendor at the market wanted $18.00 a pound for it.   Yikes--it's a garlic bubble.

Garlic and grey shallots

I wanted to add everything I could to this vegetable soup.  I had some purple carrots I'd gotten from Gathering Together Farm in Oregon.  

Jo Robinson in Eating on the Wild Side says purple carrots are a rich source of anthocyanins that have more antioxidant activity and potentially more health benefits than orange carrots.

Robinson also says hunter-gathers consumed far more phytonutrient-rich food than we do today.  

And my Cooking Assistant couldn't agree more.  We need more phytonutrients in our diet.

I'm colorblind and go by scent.  If smells like a carrot, it must be a carrot.
Contrary to popular belief, one does not need a reason to enjoy soup in summer.  This one is amazingly refreshing during the dog days of summer.

Vegetable Soup with Soldier Beans and Corn
(Serves 6)
I used half of a giant zucchini for this, and ended up with nearly 4 cups!  It's one way to use up the bumper crop of summer squash.

1 tablespoon canola oil
1sweet onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 large zucchini, diced
1 small eggplant, sliced
4 purple carrots, sliced
3 to 4 clovs garlic, pressed
1 cup soldier beans or white beans, rinsed, soaked for 8 hours and drained
28-ounce can fire-roased whole tomatoes
28-ounce can water
1 cup shiitake mushrooms
1 cup sliced green beans
1 cup corn or use corn from one full ear
1 cup chopped kale
1 avocado, diced

Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add oil, onions and red pepper.  Stir and cook until vegetables are soft.  Add zucchini and eggplant.  Continue stirring and cooking.   Add carrots and garlic.  Stir in soaked beans when vegetables are all soft.  

Transfer to soup pot and add tomatoes and water.   Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for one hour or until beans are tender.  While beans cook, dry fry mushrooms.  Once they are soft, add a little oil and stir in green beans, corn and kale.   Continue to simmer until vegetables and beans are soft. 
Top with avocado chunks. 

Note:  I made most of this soup in a pressure cooker.  I set it for 10 minutes, but I should have set it for 12.

The purple carrots are only purple on the outside.  In soup they're so beautiful.  These are the vegetables, sauteing, before they went into the soup.


B said...

This looks wonderful! I am already getting back into soup mode. We are having such a lovely Summer, but I am getting ready for warm comfort food! I hope your tooth feels better!

Debra Daniels-Zeller said...

Thanks so much for visiting. The soup is really good. The roasted fennel is amazing. But if you had lots of basil that would be great too.

Miz Helen said...

Hi Debra,
What a great Soup and to think soup weather will soon be here. I am almost ready for cooler weather. Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and have a great week.
Come Back Soon!
Miz Helen