My favorite approach to cooking is to open the door to the refrigerator, take a look in the cabinets, and just do it.
This weekend, my challenge was an easy one. In the fridge was a bounty of winter vegetables from my CSA and the Concord Winter Farmers Market. Also in the fridge was a two-quart container of fresh vegetable stock that I made earlier in the week. In the cabinet and in no hurry to be cooked, but beckoning, was a pound of Yellow Indian Woman beans from Rancho Gordo New World Specialty Food, my favorite source for delicious heirloom beans.
Yellow Indian Woman beans are small, a little smaller than a black bean, so I knew that cooking them without soaking wouldn’t take long. (Spontaneity with dried beans isn’t always possible, at least if you’re hungry.) They’re a beautiful golden color, have a dense, creamy texture and great flavor that stands up well against other flavors in a soup.
And so, a recipe was born:
Winter Vegetable and Yellow Indian Woman Bean Soup
- 2 quarts good vegetable stock
- 1 1/2 cups Yellow Indian Woman beans (or other small, light-colored beans)
- 1 pound carrots
- 1 pound parsnips
- 2 or 3 small turnips
- 3 or 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 large shallot
- 4 cups spinach
- 2 bay leaves
- Olive oil
Simmer the beans in the vegetable stock in a covered pot that will be large enough to accept all the vegetables when you’re ready. Chop the garlic and shallot, saute in olive oil for a few minutes, and add to the cooking beans. Add the bay leaves to the pot.
While the beans are cooking, scrub and chop the carrots, parsnips and turnips (don’t peel unless they’re not organic) to approximately 3/4 inch chunks. Wash and chop the spinach and set it aside.
When the beans are nearly done, not quite tender (time will vary according to the size of the bean–about 45 minutes for Yellow Indian Woman beans), add the carrots, parsnips and turnips to the pot. Keep simmering, with the pot covered, for another 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are just cooked.
Add the chopped spinach and season with salt and pepper. (Don’t keep cooking; the goal is to just wilt the spinach so it retains its fresh green color in the soup.)
Absolutely key to the success of a simple soup like this is a good quality vegetable stock. If you’re not using every available vegetable scrap already for making your own stock, it’s time to get into a good routine. (See Tip #6 on this post for more on making stock.) You can even save up your vegetable scraps in a bag in the freezer until you have enough to make a pot of stock. It’s well worth the tiny effort it takes.
If you don’t have these vegetables in your fridge, try substituting potatoes and cabbage. Kale or Swiss chard would both make excellent substitutions for the spinach.
Serve and enjoy.
What’s in your fridge?
Wow! This looks so delicious, I will definitely be trying this soon, thanks for the recipe.
And thanks for linking up over at Not Dabbling in Normal…I’ll have to check back here often, I’m always on the look out for great recipes, Kim
Hello! I loved discovering this blog and your recipe! I have a small seed company called “The Good Seed Company”, in northwestern Montana. I am updating our website and seed package, and too late learned that many of my photo files are corrupted. I wondered if I could use your photo on my seed packets, at least for this year until I can grow more out. As compensation, I would be delighted to share your recipe on our site and offer you 3 packets of seeds (pls peruse our website: http://www.goodseedco.net). Let me know what you think! All the best,
Sure! Good luck with your seed company. I love northwestern montana—I’ve got to get back there one of these days!