Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Go-to Lunches: Hearty Nine Bean Soup

Lunch stresses me out.  Breakfast is easy, dinner is a planned event - but lunches..... they just get on my nerves.  So, to combat this flaw in my domestic skills, I have come up with some go-to lunches, that either live happily in my pantry, or that I can make once and eat several times during the week.  Today I am going to share one of my favourites, which I make once a week (especially during the winter), and enjoy for several lunches throughout the week, my Hearty 9 Bean Soup.

Ready to eat with a handful of spinach thrown in, and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.  YUM!

Hearty Nine Bean Soup
  • 2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 onion coarsely chopped
  • 0.5 cup of chopped celery
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of bean blend *
  • 4 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you want to make this purely vegetarian)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 28oz tin of diced tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Soak your 1 cup of bean blend for several hours (I just throw them in a bowl, cover with water and leave in the fridge overnight). 
Heat 2 tbsp of oil on med-high heat and add onion, celery and garlic, and cook for approx 5 minutes until celery and onion are translucent.  Add your beans, tomatoes, chicken broth and water, and turn heat up to high and bring to a boil.  Once at a boil reduce heat to low and simmer soup for 1.5 to 2 hours, until beans are cooked.  Add salt and pepper to taste (I do this at the end because adding salt to raw beans makes their skins tough). When ready to serve, ladle into a bowl and for an extra little treat, sprinkle with some Parmesan cheese.  YUM!  The best part about this recipe is that it keeps quite happily in the fridge for a week, and whenever I want some, I just heat up a bowl and lunch is done!  If you really want to pack in some extra nutrition, try adding a handful of spinach leaves when you are re-heating. 

**BEAN BLEND - I go out about once a year and buy a bag of each of the 9 beans, mix them all up in a very large storage jar/container, and I have them on hand, already mixed and ready to go whenever I want.  You could probably even buy a bag of bean mix that they sell in the store - use whatever beans you want!  Here are the 9 beans that I use in my mix:
- whole green peas
- red split lentils
-whole green lentils
-small red beans
-pinto beans
-black eyed beans
-light red kidney beans
-black beans (don't over-use these, they tend to make the soup too dark)
-small white beans (I think I used navy beans in this batch)

But like I said, use whatever beans you have/like.  It's a simple, satisfying and healthy recipe!

This is the bean blend after it has soaked overnight.  It triples in volume!

Ok, my food photography skills could use some work, but trust me, it's easy and delicious. Here is my most recent batch ready to go into the fridge, where it will be waiting for lunch anytime I want!

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