Bean soup just doesn’t get any respect. I have heard all the comments: Boring. Bland. Gassy. Vegetarian? Takes too long to cook and in this heat? Yeah, yeah. What if I told you I had a recipe that your relatives would be asking for the recipe, it was fast, easy, spicy, and didn’t heat up your kitchen?
Start your crockpots peoples. Ready? Let’s go!
Steve’s Spicy Bean Soup
One pound (one-half package) of Bob’s Red Mill 13-Bean Soup Mix/your favorite dried beans OR 2 pounds fresh beans of your choice (Note: If you can get fresh beans/legumes, try them! They are delicious!)
Two 14.5 oz. cans Muir Glen Organics Fire Roasted Crushed Tomatoes
One 10.0 oz. can Hatch Diced tomatoes & Green Chilies
Two red jalapenos, seeded and diced
6 large garlic cloves, diced OR 1 T. garlic powder
1 T. ground cumin
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
One medium yellow onion, diced
Two ears of organic corn on the cob, kernels sliced off
Your choice of additional liquids: Chicken broth/one bottle of beer (I used a bottle of Shiner Bock on this batch)/ dry white wine/water
Your choice of meat: Three bison sausages diced/one large smoked turkey leg/three hot Italian sausages
Note: The meat is completely optional. If you are a vegetarian, consider serving this with a complementary protein like cornbread. Oh heck, serve it with fresh cornbread anyway! Yum!
A few days before you want to serve this, dump the whole 2 pound bag of dried beans into a large bowl. Rinse the beans several times picking out any beans that look wonky. Put the bowl into the fridge to soak for several days. Change the water at least twice each day. Besides getting the beans soft enough to cook, this has the added (and desirable) benefit of extracting the compounds that make most people gassy when they eat beans. The more you change the water, the more of these compounds get removed. Pretty cool!
If you are using fresh beans, simply give them a good rinse prior to putting them in to the crockpot. No waiting required.
On the morning of the day you want to serve the bean soup, drain the beans and dump ONE-HALF into a large crockpot. Throw the other half into the freezer so the next time you make this, they are already prepped and ready to go. Depending on the meat you have chosen to flavor your soup, heat a heavy skillet (cast iron is perfect) and add a smidge of olive oil so the meat won’t stick. Add the Italian sausage after removing it from it’s casing (or the diced sausage) and saute over a medium flame until the bits are browned and the flavor is released. Dump the meat into the crockpot. Now add the veggies into the same skillet sauteing gently until they start to caramelize. This step adds a layer of flavor but can be skipped if you are in a hurry or just don’t want to bother. Add the cans of crushed tomatoes and stir. Now add the spices and additional liquids until the beans are more than covered. This is really a judgement call but if you aren’t going to be home during the day while the crockpot is running, then add more. You can always cook the mixture down later if you want it to be thicker and it’s a much better choice then trying to burn your house down. Trust me on this one. I actually tried this once! It’s a funny story which I’ll relate another time. :-p
Cook on low for 10 to 12 hours. Sometimes I cook this overnight and then put it into the fridge the next day. When dinner rolls around, all I have to do is heat it up. Plus, this is actually better the next day as the flavors meld together.
Note there isn’t any additional salt. Canned foods often have a lot of salt already. Once it goes into a recipe, you can’t take it out; however, you can always add it at the table. Serve with a salad and/or raw veggies cut up, crusty peasant bread or hot cornbread and honey. Chopped fresh cilantro also makes a tasty garnish and livens up the soup!