When I was a child I hated beans! Probably due to the fact that my third grade teacher forced me to eat them at school lunch. Instead of swallowing them, I stored them in the sides of my mouth until I could spit them out in the restroom. I must have looked like a miserable chipmunk ducking into the bathroom! Mind you, these beans were the gigantic tough, mealy nasty beans that our school served almost every Friday. We called them Army Surplus beans. We had some of the best school cooks, and I am sure they did their best to doctor them up, but I had an aversion to them. Corn bread was always served with them, which was the only redeeming part of the lunch.
It wasn’t until years later when I took a nutrition class in college I learned that beans and cornbread are a good source protein when served together. Some other well known examples of food combinations that are rich in protein are red beans and rice, stir-fried vegetables with tofu over rice, peanut butter on whole wheat bread, hummus on crackers, or cereal with milk. Unbeknownst to me way back in the 50’s, we were recipients of a nutritious meal and didn’t even realize it!
Today I cut some corners on this bean soup recipe, I used canned beans. I don’t think the taste is altered and it saves a ton of time, not having to soak and cook the beans. And like so many of my soup recipes I start with the famous three…onions, celery and carrots…sauté in 2 T. olive oil until tender, along with 1 t. fresh thyme leaves.
Brown on both sides, five thin smoked pork chops in a hot grill pan.
Open three cans of beans, (any will work, I chose white beans) and drain. Place in large soup pan and add 1 quart (more or less depending on how thick you prefer your soup) of low sodium chicken stock.
Cut up pork chops into bite size pieces. Add to soup mixture, bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes. Using a potato masher, mash soup several times as this will thicken the soup.
Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with warm corn bread.
1 c. corn meal
1 c. flour (I use whole wheat)
¼ c. honey
3 t. baking powder
½ t. salt
1 c. milk (I use skim)
¼ c. olive oil
Smoked Pork & Bean Soup
1/2 c. chopped, onion and celery
1/4 c. chopped carrots
1 t. fresh thyme leaves
2 T. olive oil
1 qt. low sodium chicken stock
5 thin smoked pork chops, browned and cut into bite-size pieces
3 cans white beans, drained (you can used any type of beans you prefer)
Sauté veggies in olive oil until tender. Add to soup pot along with rest of ingredients. Salt and pepper to taste. Bring to boil, reduce heat and continue cooking for 15-20 minutes. Using a potato masher, mash soup contents several times as this will thicken the soup nicely.
I think soup is always better the next day as the flavors have intensified. I often double the recipe so our lunch for the next few days is already prepared! This soup freezes well too.
Time marches on and the memory of storing those thick mealy beans in my cheeks grows dim…I can now say that I love beans of all kinds and types!