|Mystery Beans III|
Nov 28th, 2006
Thanksgiving has come and gone and there was much cooking in our humble abode, but I'm going to have to recover a bit more from my turkey coma before recounting any of the lessons learned. So, for those of you who are as sick of turkey at this point as I am, here is the latest installment in my ever popular Mystery Beans series. (That is, they are popular with me, who knows how you all feel about them.)
A while back I received a pound of fresh cranberry beans, also known as borlotti beans, in the same produce box as a sack of whole grain Emmer Farro, a chewy heirloom grain. A quick web search showed that these two items are often cooked together in a soup - huzzah! So I cobbled together two recipes from Italian Cooking & Living and Epicurious into a pureed bean soup with chewy farro.
The beautiful cranberry beans turn a distressingly muddy brown when cooked, giving this dish a decidedly rustic look, but the taste is full-bodied, homey, and delicious.
If you don't happen to have both cranberry beans and farro just hanging about the house, I think white beans and barley would make a nice substitute.
Farro & Cranberry Bean Soupserves 47 ounces farro
1 pound shelled fresh cranberry beans
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
1 celery rib, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 large tomato, coarsely chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme
water as needed
Rinse the farro and soak it overnight in cold water to cover. Drain. Place the beans in a pot of cold water, bring to a boil, and simmer until tender, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile heat oil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat until hot, then cook onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and thyme, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, salt, a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves, and cook over moderate heat for 20 minutes.
Discard thyme sprigs, then blend the cooked beans and onion mixture to a smooth puree in a food processor or blender. Reserve any cooking liquid you don't use in processing the soup.
Return soup to pot and bring to a boil. Add the farro, reserved bean cooking liquid, and as much water as necessary to create a souplike consistency. Bring to a boil and simmer for 40 minutes, or until the farro is cooked through. Add more water if necessary if the soup becomes too thick. Adjust the salt and serve hot, drizzled with olive oil and dusted with freshly ground black pepper.
-adapted from Italian Cooking & Living and Epicurious.com