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Marc Brazeau | Editor | Food and Farm Discussion Lab | @eatcookwrite
In all the debates over what constitutes sustainable agriculture and what we should be doing, two practices enjoy broad support across the political spectrum: diverse crop rotations and fixing more nitrogen in the soil with legumes in order to use less synthetic fertilizer.
One of the major things holding back wider adoption of those practices is your fault, my dear fellow cooks and diners: You guys don’t eat enough beans and lentils.
If you want farmers to grow a more diverse range of crops and use less fertilizer here’s a recipe to help you do your part, what I call: Conservation Cooking.
If you want to get into conservation cooking, there is no better place to start than 13 Bean Soup. . .
That recipe included both pork jowl bacon and smoked ham hock. From a conservation point of view, the pork is an indulgence but my goal was a recipe that might be adopted by chefs at a restaurants who could spread the gospel of 13 Bean Soup to a wider audience. I got some requests for a vegan version and I had planned on it anyways, so here it is.
I’ve taken some steps that I hope folks will find interesting and instructive to build in the depth of flavor and bass notes that the pork provides in the more traditional version. We build a simple cooking liquor of vegetable broth, oyster sauce and smoked paprika to layer in the smoky umami we normally get from the smoked hocks.
As with the previous version, this recipe calls for adding in fresh herbs, carrots, and peppers at the end without a long braise to add freshness and brightness to what is usually a heavy, unnecessarily plodding, if still classic, one pot meal.
• 8oz 13 Bean Soup Beans (1/2 bag)
• 2 Pints Vegetable Broth
• 4 Heads of Roasted Garlic
• 3 Onions, chopped
• 1 lb Frozen Pepper Strips, chopped *
• 2 Yams or Sweet Potatoes, chopped (I like garnet yams)
• 2-3 Carrots, chopped
• 2 Red or Yellow Bell Peppers or Several Mini-Sweet Peppers
• 2 Cloves Fresh Garlic, minced
• 1 Pack of frozen Butternut Squash
• 2 TB Oyster Sauce (there are oyster-free oyster sauces out there, if you are making a vegan soup)
• 1 TB Smoked Paprika
• 1 Dried Chipotle Pepper
• 3-5 Fresh Bay Leaves
• 2 TB Fresh Rosemary, chopped
• 1 Bunch of Fresh Italian Parsely
• Fresh Chives for garnish, chopped
• Olive Oil
• Good quality Spanish Sherry Vinegar
• Salt and Pepper to taste
* Fresh bell peppers are fine, but these are going braise for hours, so I don’t see the point of the expense.
Roast some garlic. Soak beans overnight.
Braise the onions in the crock pot before adding the peppers. They will need a stir or two. Give the onions and peppers another hour before adding in the beans. While the onions and peppers are braising bring the vegetable broth to a boil with the oyster sauce and smoked paprika. Add the beans to the cooking liquid, cover, and turn off heat.
When the onions and peppers have braised to a good, deep flavor add the beans with the cooking liquid and the butternut squash. Wet the dried chipotles and microwave them for 20 seconds. Cut them in half and remove seeds and stems. Chop up or mill them in food processor with the fresh garlic and add to the beans in the crock pot. After an hour or so, add the bay leaves. When the beans are about two thirds cooked, add the yams or sweet potatoes and roast garlic cloves keeping them as intact as you can.
When the beans are fully cooked, stir in the carrots and the rosemary. After 15-20 minutes, turn off the heat and stir in the peppers and parsley.
Top soup with Tofurkey cracklings, fresh chives, cracked pepper, a drizzle of sherry vinegar and olive oil.
Tofurkey Sausage Cracklings