Like poor people everywhere, mountain people in the South thrived for centuries on food that was indigenous, inexpensive and healthful. These days "soup beans" speak instant comfort to anyone who had familial connections from Appalachia, where every garden produced shelling beans that could be eaten fresh or grown to maturity for dry beans. Serve this thick, stewlike soup with cornbread, pickle relish and diced sweet onion.
Yield: 8 servings, 3/4 cup each
Active Time: 20
Total Time: 130
- 1 pound pinto, yellow-eyed or other dried beans, sorted and rinsed (2 1/2 cups)
- 12 cups water
- 8 ounces finely diced ham, (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 medium onion, peeled
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Place beans, water, ham, onion, garlic, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper in a large Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are very tender and beginning to burst, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. If necessary, add an additional 1/2 to 1 cup water while simmering to keep the beans just submerged in cooking liquid.
- Remove from the heat; discard the onion and garlic. Transfer 2 cups of the beans to a medium bowl and coarsely mash with a fork or potato masher. Return the mashed beans to the pot; stir to combine.
Tips & Notes
- Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Nutrition Bonus: Folate (57% daily value), Potassium (20% dv), Iron (15% dv).
1 1/2 Carbohydrate Serving
Exchanges: 2 1/2 starch, 2 very lean meat