With cold season in full force, this soup is comfort food. I made it fairly spicy, but I've got you if you want to control how spicy it is, and we can even go no-spice for the kiddos.
I love beans. Yes, they're magical, I know the song. And yes, I've heard from those following a Paleo plan that they're concerned about beans causing inflammation. Yet as I looked into it, it seems clear that the many benefits far outweigh any negatives; in fact, recently in a live chat I posed the question directly to Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT, and that's exactly what she told me. Simply soaking beans makes them easier to digest, and adding a piece of kombu (a dry seaweed available in many grocery stores and online) to the cooking process helps reduce gassy after-effects. The fiber alone in legumes is a biggie when it comes to health benefits, not to mention all the protein, vitamins, and other nutrients. Here's a great article from the Harvard Medical School (click Harvard Medical School for the article), which also mentions that beans can help control blood sugar.
For this recipe, choose the beans you like. We're flexible, go for it. Just make sure the legumes you choose are comparable in size/meatiness so they'll cook well together. If you cook dry kidney beans with dry lentils, the little lentils will be goo by the time those big kidney beans are done.
Personally, I'm all excited because I just discovered...
The Three Beans
I used pinto and black beans with the orca beans, since they're similar in size.
Safely Cooking Dry Beans
I started with dry beans. Do you only buy canned beans because dry beans scare you? Maybe that was just me. Not all that long ago, dry beans drove me crazy. Every time I tried to cook them on the stove, I'd get distracted at the precise moment they began to boil and inevitably had them boiling over and making a big mess. If I made the mistake of waiting on laundry until the next day, the towels I had used to wipe up the mess would smell so bad I almost threw them out, not so sure the washing machine could handle it.
And then I made friends with a slow cooker. No more boiling mess. Life changing! Just set them up and leave them - perfect for us busy people who get distracted mid-cooking. Woohoo! I've been using dried beans happily ever since.
Using a manual Crockpot, I set it to low and either soak the beans overnight and cook them through the next day, or soak them through the day and cook them overnight. Are you not so wild about the smell of cooking beans? I put my Crockpot near my kitchen fan, which I have running on low. Does the trick.
(Click title above for printable version.)
Yield: About 8 servings.
The Orca beans I found at my local grocery are grown in my region, so it may be trickier for you to find them. Though mine were less expensive at my local grocery store, they are available on Amazon, link below. (I will get a teeny percentage of any sales made with the link.) You can also try asking your local grocer to carry them.