Vegetable Bean Soup with Rainbow Chard and Chimichurri

Winter is here. She gave us a real smack in the face with a noreaster hitting New York just a week after the deadliest Hurricane the city has ever seen. I didn’t know what a noreaster was, but from what I learned on wikipedia, it’s basically a big bad swirly storm. It’s definitely too cold to eat outside and you’ve got to remember to take off your slushy boots when you walk in the door.

I love the winter. As a California girl, winter to me always meant light sweaters, mudslides and pumpkin spice lattes. Without seasons, it all sort of blends together and I appreciate the changing seasons so much now that I live in the East. Although fall is my favorite, it’s so fleeting it can hardly be called a season. But winter is the season of soups and that’s why it’s my favorite season. Sure, you can have summer soups and spring soups but there is no greater feeling than coming in from a cold commute and finding a hot soup on the stove.

Soups are also super cheap to make, especially this one which doesn’t even need a broth. Don’t forget to soak your beans the night before!!!

I used this brand of beans, but any “13” or “21” dried bean mix will work. Rob’s Red Mill makes a good one. You want a combination of kidney beans, lentils, black beans, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, etc. The bag I used was 500g which is about 1 pound and I believe is about 2 cups. Also, this soup is pretty hearty so don’t be surprised if there’s less liquid than you anticipated. I found it to be a bit bland but throw in some pungent chimichurri and your soup will kick ass!

Also, there is secret ingredient in this soup. It’s dashi! It’s the MSG deliciousness that is bonito fish stock. You use just a tablespoon but it adds such an incredible layer of flavor I guarantee you won’t be making soups without it ever again.

One more time: Don’t forget to soak your beans for at least 12 hours!

Vegetable Bean Soup with Rainbow Chard & Chimichurri

Serves 6 

You will need: 

1lb bag of assorted dried beans

3 large leaves rainbow chard

1 Tablespoon dashi stock powder

1 small onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped + 3 garlic cloves finely chopped (for chimichurri)

lots of salt and pepper

2 Tablespoons + 4 Tablespoons olive oil

3 Tablespoons very finely chopped parsley

Method:

1. Soak the dried beans in a large bowl submerged in water at least 2 inches higher than the beans for 12 hours.

2. I don’t believe in draining beans, so add the beans and water to a large pot. Add another 4-6 cups water so there is a significant amount of liquid above the beans. Bring to a boil and cook for 35 minutes. If you only have one large pot, you’ll need to remove the beans, set aside and clean the pot. Ideally you have a pasta pot to cook the beans and a dutch oven to start the soup.

3. Prepare the chard by using a sharp knife to separate the leaves from the center stem. Chop the leaves and save for later. Take the stem and chop into small pieces like you would celery. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and cook the onion, 4 cloves of chopped garlic and the chard leaves over medium heat for 8 minutes.

4. Add the beans and liquid along with the dashi. Add about a teaspoon of salt…you can always add more later. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered for 2 hours. Stir occasionally and taste for saltyness. Add more dashi, salt and olive oil as needed.

5. When the soup has been cooking for 1 hour and 45 minutes, add the swiss chard leaves and stir. Salt to taste and serve.

6. Make the chimichurri by mixing 3 chopped garlic cloves, 3 Tablespoons parsley and 4 tablespoons of olive oil together in a shallow bowl. Using a fork, press the garlic and parsley against the side of the bowl to get the most flavor. Add about 1 teaspoon to each bowl when you serve.

Beautiful rainbow chard at Pike’s Place market in Seattle.

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