Usually, in the middle of winter, I’ll make a big pot of Hurst’s HamBeens 15-bean soup, put some in the fridge for the next few days, and freeze a few servings for further out. (It makes a big pot, and I live by myself.)
I’ve blogged about this stuff before, and even got feedback from the company for doing so. It’s a great thing – a big bag of 15 different kinds of dried beans, with a little seasoning pack. The directions read more like a recipe than like processed food, but that’s a good thing – you add meat, and aromatics, and tomato, and what have you. Improvisation is absolutely possible.
I don’t know why I had a hankering for the stuff during warm weather, but while grocery shopping the other day I noticed the beef flavor. I’ve always tried either the original or Cajun flavors, and I’m not sure I’ve even seen the beef flavor in the stores here before. So I bought the beef flavor. It can be made with either stew meat or ground meat, and with anywhere between one and two pounds. I found a good price on a family-size pack of ground meat, just under two pounds, so that’s what I went with. The resulting soup looks more like beef soup with beans than the other way around, but that’s OK with me.
I soaked the beans all day, and then got home a little early (comp time for a looong day yesterday) and began cooking the beans for two hours by themselves. Then, after two hours, you brown the meat along with onion and garlic. As I posted on Facebook, the instructions call for one clove of garlic, minced, but I’ve never put just one clove of garlic in anything, ever. Once the meat is browned, you add a can of tomatoes to it, plus the seasoning packet from the beans. You let that meat mixture simmer for five minutes then add it to your beans, and simmer the pot of soup for an hour more.
The directions for the original flavor 15-bean soup have you add a little fresh lemon juice near the end of cooking, and that really helps perk up and complement the slow-cooked flavors. I had a couple of limes on hand tonight, and even though the recipe for this variety doesn’t call for it I added some fresh lime juice, and even a little zest, to the soup just before serving.
Excellent. Then again, it had better be; I’ll be eating it for weeks.