Kidney bean soup

I don’t typically cook with kidney beans, other than to include a can in my crockpot chili recipe. I think maybe they were too common in some of my childhood meals, and I haven’t had much of a taste for them as an adult. Thankfully though, in continuing to cook some Georgian dishes this week, one of the things I decided to try was a kidney bean soup.

This soup started with dried kidney beans, a very cheap protein! Unless you grow your own herbs (parsley is all I have growing right now), the herbs for this dish may be the most expensive ingredient. But the combination of herbs and leeks, plus that little bit of vinegar at the end, is what gives this soup a fresh spring flavor that is just delicious. I’ve had a lot of trouble with other dried beans, being able to cook them and get them completely soft – but that was not a problem with this recipe. Especially with reheating, the beans start to break up and dissolve a bit into the soup, thickening it. Soup lovers – it’s highly recommended that you give this one a try!

Kidney Bean Soup (Lobios Chorba)
1 1/2 c. dried kidney beans
2 quarts water
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. salt
1 large onion, chopped
2 leeks, (white and light green parts) thinly sliced
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper, or 1/2 jalapeno
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 c. celery leaf, minced
fresh parsley, cilantro, dill (about 6 sprigs each)
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

Place the beans, water, salt and bay leaf in a stockppot. Bring to a boil for a few minutes, then reduce to a simmer and cook with the lid slightly ajar for about 1.5 hours, checking and stirring occasionally to make sure the water doesn’t run out as the beans absorb it.

Saute the onions, carrot, and leek in the butter in a nonstick skillet until soft, 15 to 20 minutes over medium-low heat. When the beans are softened, add the vegetables to the soup, plus the garlic, hot pepper and black pepper to taste. Stir well and continue to simmer another 15 minutes. Just before serving, check the levels of salt and pepper, adjusting as needed. Then stir in the celery leaf, herbs and vinegar, and serve.

Adapted from : The Georgian Feast, by Darra Goldstein

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