27 December 2009

six bean soup for the soul

My favorite gift received during Christmas 2009 was this Six Bean Organic Soup Mix purchased from the Women's Bean Project.  It's a favorite because I love the story behind the gift. The tag reads as follows:

Lovingly handmade by


Thank You
for supporting the Women's Bean Project. This product
has been assembled by participants of the Women's Bean 
 Project.  This non-profit business employs women who 
have experienced chronic unemployment, poverty, or
difficult life situations. When you purchase from the
Women's Bean Project, you are helping to break the
cycle of poverty and build a stronger community.

It's my favorite gift because it nourishes my body and my soul. Below is a description of my preparation of the soup.

I was taught to cook by a Haitian woman that worked in my restaurant some years ago. So all of my meals begin with the preparation of a Haitian Epis (seasoning).  My basic recipe for an epis includes scallion, green pepper, jalapeno pepper, parsley, garlic and onion.  In the picture at the right, I am washing the scallions and parsley.  Below, green and jalapeno peppers are cut and added to the scallions and parsley.

The mortars and pestles in my kitchen are for decor only. I actually use a food processor to create a near puree.  Not all of this epis  is used for the soup. Since this is a base for most of my dishes, I typically make enough to be used for other dishes that will be cooked during the week.

The recipe on the soup mix instructs that the following is required: the mix, 7 cups of water, 1 clove-garlic minced, 1 can diced tomatoes and the spice packet that was included.  Vegetables of choice are optional. So I decided to include onions and celery in addition to the epis. In this picture, I used the processor to quickly chop the onion. Below I manually chopped the celery hearts.

Some nutritionists advocate eating foods from seven color groups daily in order to ensure that you are receiving the proper vitamins and nutrients. The colorful beans in this soup should cover half of the color groups.

The is one of the most expensive pots that I own. It came into my possession when I noticed a neighbor tossing a set of Le Creuset pots (Yes! Le Creuset!) into a dumpster. I asked her why she was tossing very good (and expensive) pots. Without shame, she answered, "I have new ones and don't need these anymore". I thought it was a thoughtless act and another example of wastefulness and lack of values.  I had someone lift me into the dumpster where I retrieved 3 pots, two lids, and a skillet. I have been cooking with these pots for five years.  (Okay, back to the soup)

Here I assemble the ingredients. It includes the beans, epis, celery, onion, and garlic. The six beans include adzuki beans, green split peas, yellow split peas, black beans, small red beans and navy beans.
The recipe called for 7 cups of water. I used an organic vegetable broth instead of water.  This photo shows the provided spice packet dumped on top.  The spices included salt, parsley, onion, garlic, paprika and cayenne pepper.
At this point the soup is brought to a boil, then covered and simmered for 3 hours.  In the meantime, I cooked brown rice and quinoa-quinoa cornbread. The picture below is the quinoa that I toasted for the cornbread.
The cornbread is also made from quinoa flour, cornmeal, all purpose flour, rice milk, apple cider vinegar, agave nectar and corn oil.

These are some of the scraps that will get added to the compost.

After cooking for 3 hours, I added roasted tomatoes to the soup and cooked for another 30 minutes.

The result was a delicious and hearty meal.  Many thanks to Russ for the gift and the experience.

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