Tuesday, July 29, 2008

It's my own creation....uh, concoction, that is.

May I share a recipe I've created? I've made it twice - differently both times - and I'm still tweaking it, but both times I've made it with ingredients that we had in the house already, so it didn't cost anything extra...and that makes it a frugal recipe, right?

Amber's Bean Soup

~ 3 cups dry pinto beans (I've just recently discovered the wonder of pinto beans!)
~ water
~ 3-4 carrots, sliced
~ 4-5 potatoes, diced
~ 1 sausage link, cut into small pieces (you know, the kind of sausage that looks like a hot dog? One of those. I guess a hot dog would work, too.)
~ 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, cut into chunks
~ milk
~ 3 small garlic cloves, minced
~ cilantro leaves
~ paprika
~ Several good shakes of sea salt (This is important! It really adds to the flavor.)

~ ketchup
~ sour cream
~ shredded cheddar cheese

I think that's everything I've used. Aside from the sour cream - I haven't used it, but I KNOW it will taste good!

Okay. Preparation is very simple. First, you can let the beans soak in water overnight. That speeds up the cooking process a bunch, but you can make it work the other way, too.

If you soaked the beans overnight, in the morning drain them, put them in a large pot (one that has a lid), cover, and turn the heat up just enough to make the water boil. Boil for one hour. If you didn't soak the beans, just measure them out, rinse them, place in pot, cover with lots of water, and boil for one hour.

After one hour, drain the water from the beans, replace with fresh water, and start boiling again.

Here's where the fun of estimating comes in. Keep checking on your beans every 20 minutes or so - remember to stir. Add water if necessary. Keep them boiling for two or three hours - until the beans are soft. Once they are soft, remove from stove top and drain. Put the beans back in the pot (not on the stove), and add the carrots, potatoes, garlic, butter, and sausage. The other ingredients (aside from toppings) go into the pot at this time, too, but you'll have to estimate the amounts. Put in the spices to taste.

Milk and water will make up your broth, so add according to how "soupy" you like your soup, and how much milk you want to put in versus how much water. The first time I did this recipe, I used only water, and not much of it, and the result was a thick stew; nice texture, but rather lacking in taste. The next time I used about 1-part milk, to 2-parts water, and the flavor was much better, but a little too soupy. I think next time I'll use the same amount of milk, but less water. Keep in mind that the beans will absorb more liquid as they cook.

Put the pot back on the stove, and boil for 30-40 minutes, until the carrots and potatoes are soft. From that point on, just simmer the pot until you are ready to eat.

I started this in the mornings right after breakfast, and both times it was ready to eat by lunch time.

When serving, add toppings according to taste. Ketchup really IS good in this soup, as is cheese...and I know sour cream would be good, too.

I hope this recipe was understandable. I'm still playing with it. Let me know if you have suggestions!


Rachel said...

This sounds good-- I will have to try it... but will bookmark it for later when I want to have the stove on in the afternoon. :-) Thanks

Amber said...

Yes, I know - soup is more of a fall-and-winter-type recipe, isn't it? My mom made the same sort of remark. Thankfully, our stove doesn't make the house TOO hot, so Mom lets me concoct whatever my imagination and our budget allows. :) Despite the odd time of year. :)