Bean Soup with Sweet Potato

A hearty home made bean and squash soup

We make this light but satisfying soup during the winter months as it allows us to use our produce from our root cellar and what we have preserved in our freezer or by canning.  We grow our own beans, garlic, shallots/onions, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and kale so we have these on hand – and we have plenty of mint growing indoors as well.

Any bean will work as long as it’s a sturdy soup bean – and you can substitute items that compliment your personal pantry/local ingredients such as butternut squash or potatoes for the sweet potato; beet tops or chard for the kale; basil or cilantro for the mint; vegetable or lobster broth concentrate for the no-chicken-chicken broth concentrate….whatever you can think of that sounds good!  We have found there are only a few “musts” in this recipe – the beans and the reserved liquid that they make (as the liquid makes a rich broth as long as you pressure cook them with garlic and bay leaf), the garlic, shallot or onion and small bit of fat of your choice (e.g., olive oil, butter, margarine, vegetable oil).

To prepare beans:
2 cups dried soup beans
Water
3 cloves garlic
Bay leaf

Place washed beans in pressure cooker. Fill to top line with water. Put in garlic cloves and bay leaf. Put on stove on medium heat. Boil 50 minutes.  Let cool. Drain. Retain all liquid. Discard garlic and bay leaf.

To make soup:
5 shallots or 1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 T fat of your choice, divided (butter, olive oil, margarine)
1 large sweet potato peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes (or carrot, or squash, etc)
1/2 quart canned tomatoes
Reserved bean liquid
1 1/2 T no chicken-chicken concentrated broth
1 to 2 cups chopped kale (or chard, or spinach)
Salt

Melt 1 T fat in iron pan. Sautée shallots or onions 5-10 minutes. Add garlic. Sautée 1 minute. Remove from pan.  Melt remaining fat in pan. Add sweet potato. Sautée 10 minutes.

In large pot add reserved bean liquid, sweet potatoes, and onion/garlic mixture and no chicken-chicken concentrated broth. Add tomatoes (crush in your hand as you add). Simmer for 10 minutes. Add beans (I normally reserve approximately 3/4 cup beans to use the following day in salads or bean dip). Simmer 10-15 minutes. Add kale and simmer a final 10 minutes.

Garnish:
Chopped shallot or green onion
Chopped herb of choice such as mint, cilantro, or basil
Sprinkle with salt of choice (e.g., sea salt, kosher salt) and crushed black pepper