Six Bean Soup With Butternut Squash and Farro

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Soup season has arrived, folks.  You’ll be seeing many soups posted on this blog over the next several months, a testimony to my efforts to survive another cold and dark Michigan winter.  The leaves on the trees are nearly gone (please hang on while I wipe the tear that is rolling down my cheek…sniffle), the lawn furniture looks eerily out of place and begs to be put away, Halloween is over and talk of the holidays creeps into conversation.  We’ve already got a game plan for Thanksgiving dinner (my first time hosting!) and my mind is focused on developing recipes for healthy Thanksgiving sides for my next cooking class.  The sun sets at around five o’clock and I’m still considering bucking the trend and ignoring daylight savings time (who’s with me?).  The space heater is fully broken in and we are ready to hunker down under afghans for the next five months.  For those of you who do not live in a similar climate, this is serious stuff, folks.  A true test of resilience or sisu, as my mom would say.  Sisu is the Finnish word for strength in the face of adversity…my mom would say, “you’ve got sisu, girl!”

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One very pleasant thing that has brought warmth and joy to November has been Drew’s recent interest in…ahem…obsession with making wooden cooking utensils.  A couple of weeks ago he took me up on my request to make a hand carved wooden utensil for me.  I was amazed with the first dark walnut spatula that he presented with our initials, A + D, carved into the handle.  Since then, I’ve acquired a beautiful cherry spoon and maple spatula.  I used the cherry spoon to stir this big pot of soup, feeling grateful that despite the cold and wintry weather that awaits, I have a stove that’s often cooking up warming foods, an oven that takes the chill away, beautiful cookware to help me appreciate the food, and a hard-working and loving sweetheart to keep the fire going in my heart.

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I hope you enjoy this simple soup.  You can substitute about any bean or veggie into this soup to your taste preferences.  I threw stuff in until I felt it was the soup I wanted it to be.  Cooking shouldn’t be overly complicated–go with your instincts, be creative, use what’s on hand, and enjoy your creation!

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Six Bean Soup With Butternut Squash and Farro

Makes 12 servings

  • 2 lbs. mixed beans (you can either use a store-bought mix or can blend your own–my mix included white navy beans, pinto beans, black beans, red lentils, yellow split peas, and green split peas)
  • 1 cup farro (you may substitute barley if you can’t find farro or do half farro and half barley)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cups butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 and 1/2 cups onion, chopped
  • 28 ounces of chopped canned tomatoes
  • 1 potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tsp smoked Hungarian paprika
  • 10 cups vegetable broth
  1. If you have a pressure cooker, I highly recommend using it for this recipe.  It will cut down a lot of time.  If not, a Dutch oven or heavy soup pot works just fine.
  2. Regardless of if you have a pressure cooker, Dutch oven, or soup pot, put the beans and farro in your pot and cover with water until the water is about 2 inches higher than the level of  your beans and grains.  Bring to a boil, shut off heat, and let soak for 1 hour.  This is called quick-soaking your beans.
  3. After your beans and grains have quick-soaked, drain the soaking water from the beans.
  4. If you are using a pressure cooker, add garlic, carrots, celery, squash, onion, tomatoes, potato, basil, paprika, and vegetable broth.  Give it all a stir and add more broth if your soup feels too thick.  Seal the lid and bring to high pressure.  Once at high pressure, turn the heat down to low and cook for 12 minutes.  Turn off heat source and let steam escape with natural depressurizing.  Do not use the quick steam release method.  Once completely depressurized, open your pressure cooker and test the beans and grains to ensure doneness.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. If you are using a Dutch oven or heavy soup pot, cover beans and grains with vegetable broth to cover and cook beans and grains for 45 minutes to an hour until they are getting tender but not quite done.  Add garlic, carrots, celery, squash, onion, tomatoes, potato, basil, paprika, and remaining vegetable broth.  Give it all a stir and add more broth if your soup feels too thick.  Bring to a boil then turn heat down to simmer.  Cook for another 45 minutes until vegetables are soft.  Test the beans and grains to ensure doneness.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. This recipe makes quite a bit!  Feel free to freeze some once it has completely cooled.  It will freeze very well and is perfect for a quick lunch at work.  Just remove from the freezer the night before, let thaw, and heat up at lunch time!
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