Serves 6 to 8
(4 quarts, which you can freeze in separate containers)
Mary Anne here. For the purpose of “Feasting on the Cheap” I concocted a savory-sweet Red Bean Soup recipe loaded with mood boosting Vitamin B-3. The fiber-packed beans are also super filling so this meal won’t leave you running for a bag of Oreos at 4PM or riding a roller coaster of sugar highs and lows.
Serve the soup with a green salad, a slice of good cheese and warm whole grain bread. End the meal with a chunk of dark chocolate and you’ll feel the spring in your step return!
1 lb. dried red beans or kidney beans – $1.99
½ lb. Bacon (you can substitute turkey bacon, but will need to add oil to the skillet when sautéing the onions) – $2.50
2 cups chopped vidalia onion – $0.85
2 cloves garlic, chopped – from stock
1½ cups celery, chopped – $0.75
1½ cups carrots, chopped – $0.50
1 Bay leaf – from stock
¼ teaspoon cayenne or red pepper flakes – from stock
1½ teaspoons ground cumin – from stock
1 tablespoon chili powder – from stock
2 cups water
32 oz. chicken stock – from stock
1 28 oz. can chopped tomatoes with juice – $2.59
½ cup dry cooking sherry (or if you have it, real sherry, which is better) – from stock
Salt and pepper to taste – from stock
Grand Total Assuming Well-Stocked Pantry: $9.18
Cost per Serving: $1.53
1. After picking through the beans for misfits and wrinkled pieces, place the beans in a Dutch oven/stockpot and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and cook for two minutes over high flame. Remove from heat and allow to sit, tightly covered, for 1 hour. This is the fast method of “soaking” beans. The alternative is to soak them in two inches of water overnight.
2. While the beans are soaking, chop and dice the vegetables and set aside, the onion separate from the carrots and celery. Cut the bacon into small pieces, about ¼ to a ½ inch wide.
3. Using the pot you plan to cook the soup in, fry the bacon until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Save 3 Tablespoons of the bacon drippings and discard the rest. If you used Turkey bacon, there won’t really be any drippings. Add 2-3 Tablespoons of Canola oil (also a mood elevator loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids)
4. Over medium-high heat, sauté the onion in the bacon drippings or Canola oil for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
5. Add the seasonings to the onion and sauté an additional 8 minutes until onion is translucent.
6. Add garlic and sauté 2 minutes.
7. Add the carrots, celery, water, beans, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer, covered for about 1 ½ hours until beans are tender.
8. Add tomatoes and their juice and simmer an additional 20 minutes.
I like this soup half pureed but still a bit chunky. I suggest putting half of the soup through the food processor or blender, fitted with a steel blade. This needs to be done in batches. Return the pureed portion to the rest, add the sherry and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle each portion with bacon. You can add the bacon to the portions you freeze if not feeding more than 2 or 3.
Note: While not necessary, this is really good with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of chopped scallions if you have some hanging around in the fridge.
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