A colourful mixture of heirloom beans is the base for this light yet hearty soup. Zursun’s Paris Bistro Blend contains the following beans: pinto, pink, cranberry, black, red, kidney, great northern, baby lima, large lima, blackeye, garbanzo, split peas (yellow & green), and pearl barley. Bob’s Red Hill 13-Bean Soup Mix has a similar assortment. The lentils and pearl barley cook down and thicken the broth, while the larger beans are delicately cooked to tender perfection. The combination is terrific.
The recipe on the Zursun Paris Bistro Blend package called for ham, but I had the tail end of a grocery store roast chicken to hand, so I shredded and added that instead.
Don’t be put off by the overnight soaking of the beans. It only takes a minute to dump the beans into a ceramic or glass bowl and cover them with a couple of inches of water. If you forget, you can do it in the morning, Chopping a few vegetables and simmering the soaked beans at the end of the day works just as well. Just the ticket when you wake up to a snowy morning!
- 1 c Paris Bistro Blend or similar
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 small onion, peeled and finely diced
- 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 tsp fresh or ½ tsp dried thyme
- 4 c chicken stock
- 227 g or 8 oz diced ham or shredded chicken
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Generously cover the beans with water and soak overnight. Rinse and drain.
- In a large pot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil and butter. Sauté the onion until translucent (3 minutes). Add the carrots and celery and sauté (3 minutes).
- Add the drained beans, thyme, chicken stock and enough water to cover the beans by 2”. Reduce the heat and simmer until the beans are tender (45 minutes to 1 hour).
- Add the chicken or ham and warm through. Add the lemon juice. Adjust seasonings and serve.
Adapted from Zursun Paris Bistro Soup package.
I like to double the recipe so I have plenty on hand for mid-week lunches, and often toss in a handful of fresh spinach or leftover vegetables when I reheat a bowl of the soup in the microwave.
According to popular folklore, peas and beans symbolize coins or wealth, and if eaten on New Year’s Day, are guaranteed to bring good luck throughout the year. So I took a quart of the soup and a loaf of Gruyere-stuffed crusty bread over to a few neighbours on New Year’s Day as a good luck gift for 2022. I don’t think cheese bread has any special luck-bearing qualities, but it’s a delicious accompaniment to the virtuous soup.
Here is the Gruyere-stuffed crusty bread recipe, very lightly adapted from one on the King Arthur Bakery website.
Happy New year and bon appetit!