Soup, Glorious Soup: Part 2, Beans and Grains

In Part I of “Soup, Glorious Soup” Rachel presented a variety of recipes for lentil soup. Now, she’ll share some ideas for using other legumes and whole grains in soups.

Chunky Bean and Vegetable Soup

The first recipe is for split pea. Split pea soup has always been one of my favorites – I make a vegetarian version that you’d swear was cooked with a ham hock. And, contrary to popular belief, it’s hardly necessary to soak beans before cooking them, as you will see in the second recipe. I just simmer for an hour or so before adding the other soup ingredients and my mixed bean soup is perfectly tender. The third recipe below is for an addictive minestrone. Finally, I present Mushroom Barley. I brought this soup over to a friends house for part of a dinner we were making together. Jason’s friend went crazy over it, the wife has asked for the recipe for her mother – she said it tasted just like her grandma’s. Even the kids liked it, and it’s vegan!

If you don’t read the rest, there’s NO SOUP FOR YOU! Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

But not all the soups I make are vegetarian. One of my favorites is a Southwest take on Italian Wedding Soup. I added black beans and whole grain brown rice to the recipe I found in a cookbook. Now it’s a meal in a bowl. I usually serve it with whole grain crackers and some crudités to make a satisfyingly healthy lunch or dinner. The recipe for Southwest Turkey Meatball Soup appeared in our Superbowl edition of Off the Broiler. The soups in this post are all vegetarian. But you can use some chicken stock or broth to replace some of the water (but don’t use all stock, it would be too strongly flavored of chicken) or bouillon cubes in place of salt, if you want that additional flavor.


Split Pea Soup
My mother always made split pea soup vegetarian. Raised in a kosher home, she didn’t know from using ham hocks to make it more flavorful. I did and made it with the ham hocks for the last several years. Mmm, mmm good. And fattening. Instead of ham hocks, my secret to getting that savory flavor is to use smoked Spanish paprika. If you really need bits of ham in your soup, brown a couple of slices of Canadian Bacon in a separate skillet, dice that and add it to the pot just before serving.

10 oz Onion (10 oz is about 2 cups diced)
10 oz Celery
10 oz Carrot
1 tsp Olive Oil
1 lb Green Split Peas
8 cups Water
2 Bay Leaves
Bouquet Garni of Thyme, Parsley, Rosemary
1/2 – 1 tsp Spanish Smoked Paprika
1 tsp Salt or Bouillon
Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Cut the vegetables into large dice. Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot and sweat the vegetables for 5-10 minutes, until they just start to get some color. Add peas, water, herbs and ½ tsp paprika to the pot and simmer for 30 minutes. Carefully puree in batches and return to pot. Add salt and pepper to taste, it may also need a little more smoked paprika. Serve immediately or freeze for later. Makes about 8 portions.


Chunky Bean and Vegetable Soup
I use the Goya 16 Bean Soup Mix or the mixed beans from the bulk bins at Whole Foods. You could also use any single variety or combination of beans you like for this basic recipe. Also, it’s really not necessary to presoak the beans unless you have a bad problem with flatulence. If so, you can always add some Beano to your bowl. Also, as you begin to eat beans regularly, that issue decreases.

1 lb assorted Dry Beans
10 cups water
10 oz Onion (10 oz is about 2 cups diced)
10 oz Celery
10 oz Carrot
1 tsp Olive Oil
Bouquet Garni of Thyme, Rosemary, Sage, Parsley
2 Bay Leaves
1 14 oz can diced Tomatoes (or 2 fresh chopped)
1 tsp Salt (or 1 chicken or mushroom flavored bouillon cube)
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Chopped Fresh Parsley

Sort through the beans looking for any pebbles or damaged beans. Put in a 5 quart pot with 10 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Test beans for tenderness. You don’t want them mushy, because they are going to be cooking for at least another 30 minutes, but they should have lost most of their hardness before you start adding vegetables.

While the beans are simmering, cut the vegetables into large dice. In a separate skillet, heat the oil and sweat the vegetables for 5-10 minutes. When the beans are beginning to get tender, add the sweated vegetables, herbs and tomatoes to the pot. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Pick out a chick pea and another large bean to test, when they are tender, add the other seasonings to taste. Makes about 10 portions.

I found the original recipe for this soup on the Better Homes and Gardens website. When I used to make minestrone, it was a clean out the fridge of every vegetable I could find kind of affair. This one is much simpler, emphasizing tomato, zucchini and spinach. Of course, I adapted the recipe to our current needs. Using less oil and brown rice. The original recipe omitted pasta, and so do I.

1 tsp Olive Oil
2 cups chopped Onion
1 cup Carrot, 1/4 inch slices
1 cup Celery, 1/4 inch slices
4 cloves Garlic, minced
4 cups water or broth
1 28 oz can tomatoes, diced or crushed
1 piece of Parmesan cheese rind
1 tsp each: Dried Basil, Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary (or fresh sprigs)
2 cups cooked Beans (Red or White Kidney, Navy, or Garbanzo) (or 1 can, rinsed)
1 cup Brown Rice, cooked
1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced (about 1-1/2 cups)
4 cups shredded fresh spinach
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

In a large soup pot heat olive oil, add onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add carrot, celery and garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes. Stir in the water, tomatoes, cheese rind and herbs. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 20 minute. Stir in the beans, rice zucchini, spinach and pepper. Cook, covered, for 5 minutes more. Remove cheese rind and fresh herb sprigs (if used) before serving. If desired, sprinkle each serving with Parmesan cheese at service but don’t freeze with cheese in the soup. Makes about 8 servings.


Mushroom Barley Soup
Hulled barley is to pearled barley as brown rice is to white. If using pearled barley, set the timer for 20 minutes, as it doesn’t need to cook as long. You may then want to just cook the vegetables first and simmer it all together.

12 cups Water
1 cup Hulled Barley
2 Bay leaves
2 tsp. Olive Oil, divided
10 oz diced Onion (2 cups, ½ inch dice)
10 oz diced Celery (2 cups)
5 oz diced Carrot (1 cup)
16-20 oz sliced Mushrooms (2 packages White Button or Cremini mushrooms)
6 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbs dried Thyme
1 tsp Salt (or 1 chicken or mushroom flavored bouillon cube)
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 Tbs fresh Parsley, chopped

Bring water and barley to a boil in a 5 quart pot, add bay leaves. Reduce heat to low and simmer, setting timer for 45 minutes. In a separate skillet, heat 1 tsp oil and saute the onions and celery until lightly browned, for about 5-10 minutes. Add carrots for the last couple of minutes, then add the sauteed vegetables to the simmering barley. Heat another teaspoon of oil in the skillet and saute the mushrooms, adding the garlic and dried thyme when they have released their liquid. Saute until the liquid cooks out and the mushrooms begin to brown. Add the mushrooms, garlic and thyme to the simmering barley. Take a ladleful of the burgeoning soup and put in the skillet, stir and scrape with a wooden spoon to deglaze the browned bits and return the liquid to the pot. Add the seasoning and parsley. At this point the timer should be about out of time, check the barley for doneness. The soup may need a few more minutes simmering. Taste for seasoning and serve. Makes 10 servings.

8 Responses to Soup, Glorious Soup: Part 2, Beans and Grains

  1. Will says:

    This split pea soup is very similar – I made it up after reading a bunch of different recipes online. I’m not usually a big fan of liquid smoke, but it works pretty well in this recipe. I’m curious to try Spanish paprika (which I love) instead, though.

    1 package (16 oz) split peas
    6 C water
    2 C veg stock
    2 bay leaves
    1 1/2 tsp or to taste liquid smoke (optional)
    kosher salt, to taste
    olive oil (or other veg oil), for sauteeing
    1 leek, halved and cut into small rounds
    3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
    1 large / 2 small carrot, small dice
    2 med yukon gold or similar potatoes, small dice
    pepper, to taste
    minced chives, for garnish
    crusty bread

    Soak peas and drain

    In a large dutch oven or stockpot, bring peas to boil in water and veg
    stock along w/ bay leaves, a little kosher salt and liquid smoke. let
    boil for 2 minutes; then lower to a simmer and cook covered for 45 min
    to an hour, until soft.

    Saute leeks and garlic in a little olive oil or other oil, add carrot
    and potato and saute until coated with oil and warm. Add to split pea
    mixture, and simmer until vegetables are tender.

    Extract bay leaves if you can find them, puree, if desired, and add more
    seasoning to taste.

    Top with chives, and serve with crusty bread.

    You can also include a little baked tofu or Chinese vegetarian duck as a
    ham substitute.

    This is another favorite soup recipe of mine – from a high school friend’s health food store.
    African Peanut soup:
    2 cups choopped onions
    1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
    1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
    1 tsp grated fresh ginger root (peeled) — I usually use 2
    1 cup chopped carrots
    2 cups chopped sweet potatoes
    4 cups vegie stock

    2 cups tomato juice
    1 cup smooth peanut butter
    1 tablespoon sugar (ooptional)
    1 cup chopped scallions or chives.

    Saute the onions in the oil until just translucent. Stir in the cayenne
    and the ginger. Add the carrots and saute a couple more miutes. Mix in
    the potatoes and stock or water, bring the soup to a boil, and then simmer
    for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender. In a blender or
    food processor puree the vegetables with the cooking liquid and the tomato
    juice. Return the puree to the soup pot. Stir in the peanut butter until
    smooth. Taste the soup. Its sweetness will depend upon the sweetness of
    the carrots and sweet potatoes. You can add the sugar if you want. Reheat
    the soup gently so that you don’t scorch the bottom. Use the chives or
    scallions to top it off.

  2. abbigoody says:

    I grew up in a kosher home (and I’m still kosher) and my mother always made split pea soup with stew meat or even boneless turkey thigh meat, cubed. Very hearty, great winter soup, I still make it to my husband’s great enjoyment. A meal in a bowl!

  3. Gail says:

    Smoked yeast works in the split pea soup too. Also sweet potatoes/yams make a tasty addition to the bean/vegetable soup.

  4. Katie Meadow says:

    Rachel, my Mushroom Barley soup is very similar to yours, with two differences. I usually use home-made beef broth or a combo chicken/beef broth, defatted of course. I also learned a great trick from Lidia’s Family Table. Soak about 1/4 c dried porcini in 1/2 c of warm water for about an hour before starting the soup. The strained mushroom water and chopped mushrooms (shake off if there is any dirt!) are added when the liquid or stock goes in. The flavor is strong–I don’t always use all the mushroom water–and you would never need to add any type of mushroom boullion. It really gives the soup added depth, especially if you are using water or veg stock. Thanks for some great soups!

  5. Colin says:

    I had seen a recipe for split pea soup several years ago on the web that called for black cardamom, which have this amazing smoky aroma and flavor. After I finally got them, I’ve been searching for that darn recipe with no luck. I think it’s time to try Rachel’s recipe with the black cardamom. Thanks!

  6. […] is soup, soup, and more soup over at Off The […]

  7. excessivemastication says:

    The bean and vegetable soup looks great. I think I finally have a use for those dried beans I bought and promised myself I’d use! I am a very lazy student :(.

  8. @Will wow nice twist on the split pea recipe here!! I like the idea of the spanish paprika!! I have tried split pea before and came out terrible so one of these 2 will keep me going for sure thanks for the awesome recipes… With fall coming this is going to be real tasty

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