15-Bean Soup

February has flown by. Our annual Mardi Gras Madness party is always the Saturday before Mardi Gras, and this year it was early: 2/2. We spent the first full week of February recovering from the party as well as a stomach bug, and getting our house back in order. The second week brought a sinus infection, Valentine’s Day, and prepping for a trip to Prague and Budapest which we did the third week (I plan to post a bit about our culinary adventures later). Now here we are, tired, broke, and grocery-less. I raided the non-perishables which we keep on an old bookshelf in the basement, and I found a package of Hurst’s HamBeens Brand Original 15-Bean Soup. Not sure where it came from or how old it is, but it is just a mix of 15 different types of beans so I figured it wouldn’t kill us.

Now, there is a recipe on the back, but as I tend to do, I figured it was only a suggestion. When we left for school on Monday morning, I emptied the beans into a large pot and covered them with 2 quarts of water, figuring they could soak until I got home, which they did. I rinsed and sorted them, and put them back in the pot. I added a fresh two quarts of water and set the beans, AND one pound of smoked sausage (I actually used Hillshire Farms Lite Polska Kielbasa) that I cut into bite-sized pieces, first to boil then to simmer for two hours. After simmering, I sort of followed the recipe and added one diced onion, three cloves minced garlic, three tablespoons lemon juice, three teaspoons chili powder and a 15-oz can of diced tomatoes. Side note: I’d probably add more tomatoes next time. I also took it upon myself to add a few shakes of cayenne and about two teaspoons of dried thyme. The package included a small envelope labelled “ham flavor” or something, which I quickly decided to discard. I added another cup of water and let it all simmer for another half hour. The soup had the consistency of a thick bean chili, and the cayenne and chili powder gave it a subtle smoky heat which was nicely balanced with the thyme. We enjoyed the soup with a crusty French bread as Chris repeated “I love soup” as if it were his mantra.

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