What’s in that bowl?
It’s bean soup!
I know, but what is it now?
That old Benny Hill gag always comes to mind when we make or eat bean soup. A nice bowl of beans, veggies and stock with a little meat added can make a really delicious and nutritious meal. You can use one type of beans or a mixture. And the whole cooking process takes only about an hour, completely unattended.
We started with Bob’s Red Mill Black Bean Soup Mix. This has about 5 kinds of beans, but no seasonings or veggies: those are on you. It has for many years been customary to soak beans overnight before cooking them. This is supposed to make them more digestible and reduce flatulence. But this is controversial, and you probably don’t need to do it.
Nonetheless, for our first Instant Pot bean project, we soaked them over night. Next time we’ll omit that step and just cook them a little longer. We took two cups of the bean mix and rinsed them off under running water, and then soaked them for 12 hours over night, and then rinsed them. You would need to do this rinsing anyway to remove agricultural debris. The beans will have at least doubled in bulk while soaking.
Then we used them as described below.
- 2 cups beans, soaked overnight
- 3 ½ cups chicken stock
- 2-3 Tb olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, peels and chopped coarsely
- 1 green, sweet pepper
- 1 cup cubed ham (or more)
- 1 small bunch parsley, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ tsp thyme
- Salt, pepper
- Put the olive oil in the Instant Pot pan and set the pot to Simmer (highest setting)
- Add the carrots and saute for 2-3 minutes
- Add the onions, celery, and pepper and saute until soft
- Add the garlic and saute briefly until you smell the fragrance
- Add the beans and chicken stock and mix
- Add the ham, parsley and spices and mix.
- Close the Instant Pot and set to 25 minutes on Manual. If you didn’t soak the beans, you may need to add 10 minutes, but 25 is probably enough either way.
- Allow the mixture to rest 15 minutes before releasing the steam.
Serve in bowls, with crusty bread on the side. Makes around 4 servings.
This relatively simple recipe can be done in less than an hour, and makes a rich, filling meal. There are several steps that you can do ahead and none are all that complicated. The original inspirational recipe came from Milk Street, (and is the first one we wanted to actually make). That recipe suggests garnishing the soup with fried shallots. Don’t even try this: it will small up your house for days, and are very hard to keep from burning. You can buy them packaged at Asian markets or online.
The components of this soup are:
- Jasmine rice
- Pork balls
- Soup broth
- Soft boiled eggs
Jasmine rice is a delicately scented short grain rice, that you should make first and allow to cool on a plate or baking sheet. You will add it to the soup when the rice is cold, so it doesn’t break up to much when you stir it in. Cook about 1 cup of rice with the package’s amount of water. In our Instant Pot rice cooker, we added 1.25 cups of water and cooked it for only 10 minutes. Open the pot and spread it out to cool.
Soft boiled eggs
Set out 3 eggs. Place a vegetable steamer in a 2 quart sauce pan and fill with water until just below the steamer bottom. Bring the water to a boil, and quickly lower the eggs into the steamer using a slotted spoon. Cover and cook 6.5 minutes. Run cold water into the pan to stop the cooking, empty and add more cold water. Pick up each egg and run cold water on it until no longer warm to the touch. Crack each egg and peel under running water. Set aside the peeled eggs.
- 8 oz ground pork
- 1 Tb fish sauce
- 1 Tb chili-garlic sauce
- White pepper to taste
Mix the pork and sauces in a small bowl and make around 10 balls using a small cookie scoop. Put them on a plate and refrigerate for 15 minutes or so.
- 3 Tb lard (or olive oil, or grapeseed oil)
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 5 large shallots halved and thinly sliced.
- 8 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 3 lemongrass stalks, bruised to release the flavor, or use lemon zest instead.
- 2 Tb grated ginger root
- 5 quarts chicken broth (we used some homemade mixed with canned)
- 1 cup chopped cilantro (or parsley of you are not a cilantro fan)
- 3 Tb lime juice plus lime wedges
- 2 Tb fish sauce
- 1 Tb chili garlic sauce
- In a large pot (3 quarts or more) heat the lard and add the shallots and salt. Cook for about 5 minutes
- Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds, until fragrant.
- Stir in the lemon grass and ginger and cook until fragrant.
- Add the broth and cook at medium heat for about 15 minutes
- Remove and discard the lemon grass.
- Add the pork meatballs, and cook through, about 4 minutes
- Stir in the rice, and cook until heated through.
- Off heat, stir in the fish sauce and chili garlic sauce, the cilantro or parsley and the lime juice.
Ladle in bowls and decorate with the halved soft boiled eggs (cut them right in the bowls), lime wedges, and the optional fried shallots. Packaged onion rings are a good substitute, too!
Serve at once to your admiring guests.
I went to my doctor yesterday because I had a lingering nasty cold, and came away with a couple of helpful prescriptions and a recommendation from both the doctor and www.optinghealth.com that I be sure to have some chicken soup. Well there have been enough studies to know that chicken soup really does help cold symptoms, and that was all I needed to buy 4 chicken thighs (those ridiculous Franken-thighs where 4 weighed 1.7 lbs) and make some soup.
We had made some chicken pot pies a few weeks ago and had frozen the remaining stock and thus had some really good stock all ready to go.
- We pulled out 2 containers of it (about 2-3 quarts) and popped then out of their containers and into the pan of our Instant Pot. We set it on low pressure steam for 5 minutes to thaw the stock.
- Then we skinned the thighs and tossed them into the pot, and pressed the Poultry button for 15 minutes cooking.
- We pulled the chicken pieces out to cool and decanted the fat from the stock.
- When we made our frozen stock, we didn’t remove every bit of fat because it would be fine going into a gravy, but no one wants soup with a greasy mouth feel, so we removed the fat from the stock and from poaching the thighs using a gravy separator. It works by pouring from the bottom of the dish, since the fat floats to the top.
- We poured the fat off three batches.
- Now to actually make the soup, we cut up
- One medium onion, diced
- 2 carrots
- 2 large stalk of celery
- We added the veggies to the now empty InstantPot bowl along with a Tb or two of butter, and let them sauté until softened.
- Then we returned the stock to the pot, along with the cut up chicken.
- Then we tossed in the remainder of an open bag of Medium Dutch Maid Egg Noodles (about 5 oz).
- We closed the pot and pressed Soup, setting the time down to 10 minutes.
- The resulting soup was so beautiful even in the pot we were amazed.
It was even better in a bowl. We served it with a loaf of Wave Hill Bread.
This recipe serves about 4.