Smokey Three Bean Soup

Smokey Three Bean Soup
Late yesterday morning as I came out of my congested fog it occurred to me that a nice pot of bean soup would be without a lot of effort or mess as well as a tasty nutritious meal for a fall day.  Because I had thought of this at the last minute so to speak I used the short soak method to limit the "BEAN" effects instead of the usual overnight soak.

The short soak method generally is picking through the beans for any that are undesirable then placing them in a kettle and covering them with fresh water,  I use about an inch to cover.  Bring this to a boil for 2 minutes and turn off.  Leave covered pan for one hour then drain and rinse the beans and proceed with the recipe you have chosen.

My favorite bean soup goes like this:
1 C. dry Navy beans
1 C. dry Great Northern beans
1 C. dry Pinto beans
2 T. olive oil
1 large chopped onion
3 cloves diced garlic
2 ribs diced celery
1 large diced carrot
1 bay leaf
1 dried hot pepper or 1-2 t. dry red pepper flakes
6 C. double strength chicken broth
1 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
6 oz. diced ham, cooked bacon, or smoked sausage

After soaking the beans and setting them aside saute the vegetables in a heavy bottomed soup kettle in the olive oil.   Add all of the ingredients plus enough water to be about an inch aver the beans.  Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium low.  You want a slow boil but not a simmer.  Check periodically and add a bit of water if it is cooking away.  I leave them covered and keep a 2 C. measure of water nearby so I can add a bit if needed.  After 2-2 1/2 hours reduce to a simmer and continue to monitor for dryness.

I like this combination of beans because the navy beans will start to dissolve and thicken the soup naturally but the northerns and pintos do not as readily. When this happens you need to either turn them off or pay attention to them especially if you are not using a heavy bottomed pan as they can scorch on the bottom.

Our family loves this dish with a big scoop of cottage cheese dolloped right in the center of the bowl and corn muffins on the side or under the beans.  I have never heard of another group doing the cottage cheese on top so I refrained from doing so in the photo.  It is really good though if you are a food adventurer!!

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