Monday, January 7, 2008

07.01.08: Has Bean

This blog got a bit scrappy in the week before Christmas, when a memorable Leek 'n' Sweet Potato concoction, courtesy of Carlo, went unrecorded and the Red and Black Bean Soup that I provided on Friday 21st went largely uneaten. I made masses in the expectation that demand would be strong on our final day, but it appeared that our regulars were all doing their Xmas shopping and so only about a dozen bowls were served.

I froze the uneaten soup from 21.12.07 in three litre-sized portions and served it again today, providing continuity to our enterprise and acting in the spirit of thrift that's surely appropriate to the age, is it not? I extended with more black and red kidney beans, biber salçası - red pepper paste - plus a can of borlotti beans, making a thoroughly rib-sticking bean soup, which I served with a swirl of fresh Greek yoghurt, to cheer everybody up on what was for many their first day back to work.

Intended to be more unctuous than spicy, this soup didn't contain any chilli and utilised the sweeter paprika paste rather its more piquant alternative. The frozen soup incorporated sweetcorn and the fresh one would include a can of meaty borlotti beans (although I did think of using the rest of the urid black lentils left over from making Dal Makhani) making for a really hearty soup. You can gauge how successful it was from this picture of Daisy and Annie, who have evidently been inspired to draw a heart in the condensation on the window:
Overnight, I soaked half a kilo of red kidney beans and another half kilo of black beans. To make the soup, I started with a mirepoix. Actually, I roughly chopped three purple onions, a white onion and a shallot and peeled the cloves of most of a head of garlic (all of which I found in the bottom of my fridge) and left them roasting in a medium oven, with the beans simmering in separate pot on the top, while I popped down the shops for bread, spread and milk.

Back at the Pullens Centre, I transferred the cooked onion and garlic to the soup pot, with a splash of hot oil in the bottom, added most of a head of celery, roughly diced, and the best part of a pound of carrots, also chopped. Continuing to cook this mixture over low heat with the soup pot lid on, I added a dessert spoon full of cumin seed and another spoon full of ground cumin, plus half a jar of paprika paste (let's say three dessert spoons full) and a splash of Marigold bouillon from a litre jug to keep the mixture moist and prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pan, adding more liquid as necessary. Meanwhile, the beans carried on simmering.

To the flavour base in the bottom of the soup pot, I added half the cooked beans from each pot with the rest of the litre jug of bouillon, plus a further two litres (making three in all) and carried on cooking until the beans were soft enough to blend. I turned the heat off and left the pot to stand for five minutes before blending its contents with Brenda the blender until it had a fairly smooth consistency. I assembled the finished soup by tipping in the rest of the cooked beans, the 3 litres of left over soup that had been defrosted and the 500ml can of borlotti beans (with their liquid).

Finally, I returned the soup pot to the stove top and reheated the soup, stirring well, and added another litre of bouillon to thin and make it more soupy. The soup was served with a swirl of fresh Greek yoghurt and some two dozen people enjoyed it. One wrote in the log bok, 'Lovely hearty soup - come on the New Year, let's have you!!

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