Mom's 13-Bean Soup
The winter my dad was in Iraq, my mom looked in the pantry one night and realized she didn’t really have anything ready to feed us with. The base exchange was closed and there was no way she was dragging two elementary schoolers to McDonald’s before bed. She had a whole mess of beans, some vegetable broth, and bacon. Bam, 13-bean soup, ready in time for dinner and good as hell.
You got beans? You got broth? You got soup.
You will need:
- a box of stock – vegetable is good, but chicken or beef will work if you want a meatier flavor
- a couple different cans of beans. Big, light-colored beans are perfect for this soup: things like butter beans and navy beans are great. Mix it up how you like, though, or with whatever’s in your pantry; lentils, black-eyed peas, garbanzos, and red beans are great too. Try to pick a couple varieties of bean to give different textures & flavors.
- 3 cloves minced garlic. This is equivalent to about a heaping tablespoon of the jarred stuff, which works great.
- 2 diced yellow onions (we like vidalia, for their sweetness)
- olive oil, just enough to fry vegetables in
- 2 bay leaves
- dried oregano and basil
- salt and pepper to taste
This is technically all you need to create a good soup. If you have more money and time and want to spice it up, you can add:
- bacon or other meat (MAKE SURE YOU COOK IT FIRST)
- whatever else you want! Chop em up and throw em in once you’ve brought the soup to a nice simmer.
- Ideally, rinse the beans and soak them overnight. If you don’t have the time, just rinse them until water runs clear. Strain and set aside.
- Heat your oil or butter in a big soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and stir, cooking until they’re soft but not brown, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add garlic, bay leaves, and spices and cook for another 2 minutes or so.
- Add beans and stir, then add stock. Cover pot. Bring to a hearty boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer once it’s bubbling. Simmer about 1 hour.
- OPTIONAL: If you’re using meat or tofu, add now and simmer for another 5-10 minutes; same if you’re using a leafy vegetable like kale or cabbage. If you have hard vegetables (carrot, celery, potato) add before meat/tofu; stir in and simmer for another half hour before the protein goes in.
- Salt and pepper to taste and serve. Best with a crusty baguette.