I like routines. Small habits and simple rituals can make me feel at home wherever i happen to be. Cooking beans from scratch is one of those. In the evening, picking a variety and soaking them. The pot simmering on the stove in the morning. The thought of having some creamy beans waiting for me when i'll be hungry later in the day. Apart from the satisfaction of doing it myself (and saving money), it has on me a grounding effect. This recipe is a celebration of those simple but meaningful moments. It's a warming and satisfying meal in a bowl. It has everything you need for a balanced vegetarian dish. Beans, grains, root and leafy vegetables, healthy ferments with the addition of sauerkraut. More than a recipe, i am sharing some guidelines. For each ingredients, i suggest some alternatives so that you can adapt the soup to your taste and whatever is available to you at the moment. You get the idea !
— SERVES 6
1 MEDIUM LEEK (OR YELLOW ONION)
1/4 CELERY ROOT (OR POTATO, TURNIP, PARSNIP)
2 MEDIUM SWEET POTATOES (OR CARROT, SQUASH)
5 DL LIGHTLY PACKED GREENS
(KALE, SPINACH, COLLARD, SAVOY CABBAGE)
A HANDFUL FRESH THYME
(OR ROSEMARY - 2 TBSP IF USING DRIED)
2 DL BUCKWHEAT GROATS, RINSED
(OR FARRO, BARLEY, SORGHUM, SPELT, SMALL PASTA)
3 DL SMALL WHITE BEANS, COOKED
(OR ANY OTHER BEANS OR LENTILS)
1,5 L BEANS COOKING WATER (SEE NOTE)
1 TBSP NEUTRAL COOKING OIL
SALT AND BLACK PEPPER TO TASTE
MUSTARD, SAUERKRAUT, FRESH THYME
FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER
1 - Slice the leek in half lengthwise. Chop each half in big pieces. Place in a strainer. Use a knife to cut celery root end and peel it roughly. Chop into bite-size pieces. Add to the strainer.
Peel sweet potatoes with a vegetable peeler. Chop into bite-size cubes. Add to the strainer with chopped leek and root celery and give all the vegetables a good rinse under running water.
2 - In a large pot, warm up oil on high heat. Add all vegetables
and fry them, stirring frequently, until they get nice brown edges. Add bean cooking liquid and stir in thyme and rinsed buckwheat. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat to minimum. Cover the pot with a lid and let cook for 10 minutes (you might need to adjust the cooking time here depending on the grains you are using - five minutes will be enough for pasta for example).
3 - At that point, taste broth and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add beans and greens and simmer a few minutes until greens are starting to wilt. Remove pot from heat.
Serve warm in wide bowls with mustard, sauerkraut, a sprig of
fresh thyme and extra black pepper.
NOTE / To cook beans from scratch, follow instructions below.
You could of course use canned beans if you haven’t cooked your own. In that case, simply save the liquid from the cans and add water or vegetable broth to reach 1,5 liter.
HOW TO COOK BEANS FROM SCRATCH
1 - Measure 2,5 dl of dried beans. Place them in a large cooking pot and cover with about 1 liter of water. Soak your beans for at least 8 hours or overnight. Soaking beans is important as it soften their skins, improve digestibility and shortens cooking time.
2 - Transfer soaked beans to a strainer and rinse thoroughly. Return to the same pot and cover with 1,5 liter of fresh water. At that point you can add a piece of dried kombu (seaweed that add flavor and minerals - easy to find in any asiatic store), a bay leave, a few garlic cloves etc. Do not add salt now as it inhibits the cooking process. Bring to a boil. Scoop off and discard the foam that comes to the surface.
3 - Turn down the heat to low. Place lid on pot and continue to simmer beans at low temperature until they are soft and tender. The cooking time can vary from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on the size and freshness of your beans. Small beans usually takes from 30 to 45 minutes while large beans and chickpeas might take up to 2 hours. Taste beans after 30 minutes and every 15 minutes until they are done. They should be tender and cooked through to the center.
4 - When beans are cooked, remove from heat and stir in 2 teaspoons salt. Let them cool in their cooking liquid. Once cooled, beans can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen in small portions for later use. I always keep the bean cooking liquid. It is basically a rich vegetarian broth that can be kept in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for up to six months.