Bean there, doing that

I have waxed prosaic in this space before about Hurst’s HamBeens 15-bean soup. I make a pot or two of the stuff every winter, dividing it up into batches, and it’s a perfect cold-weather supper.

original_bayou-cajun-red-beanAnyway, when I was at the grocery store yesterday I found a different, slightly-fancier product from the same company, Hurst Family Harvest Bayou Cajun Red Bean Soup. Much like the 15-bean soup product, it’s basically dried beans with a seasoning packet and a recipe – you add onion, garlic, andouille or smoked sausage, a can of diced tomatoes and the juice of a lemon. Although it’s labeled as “soup,” it’s clear from the directions that this is basically the “red beans” part of red beans and rice, and that’s how they suggest you serve it.

I have a pot simmering away on the stove even as we speak. I could not get good authentic andouille; I got some Johnsonville andouille, but it’s basically just Johnsonville smoked sausage with slightly-tweaked seasoning. (The few times a friend of mine has been headed to N’awlins, I’ve asked them to bring me back andouille.) Even so, even the pseudo-anduouille should be good in this. (“Pseudo-Andouille” would make a great name for a rock band, as Dave Barry would say.)

Here’s how things looked as I was sauteeing the onion, garlic and andouille. The soaked and drained beans are standing by waiting to jump into the dutch oven:

red beans

I can’t wait to see how this turns out.

Parade fuel

I will be riding in the back of the pickup truck which pulls the Times-Gazette float in tonight’s Shelbyville Christmas Parade. I have to be at the paper at 2 to do some final work on the float, then the lineup and judging are at 4, and the actual parade won’t start until 6. (My brother and my nephews will also be in the parade, with a float representing one of my nephews’ Cub Scout troop.)

It will be cold.

So when I was shopping for a few groceries yesterday, I picked up some HamBeens 15-bean soup. I soaked the beans overnight and the soup is cooking as we speak.

I’ve blogged about this company’s products before — and even got some feedback from the company for doing so — but it bears repeating.

The nice thing is that it’s really more like a recipe than a processed food. All that comes with the soup are the assorted dried beans and a small packet of ham flavoring (or Cajun seasoning, for the Cajun variety). You add meat, vegetables and other seasonings, which adds a lot of room for personal taste.

For example, today I’m making the regular 15-bean soup. But instead of the suggested ham or smoked sausage, I’m using breakfast sausage, just because it sounded like a good idea. I’m using a larger size can of tomatoes than the directions called for, and a little more onion, and since I am out of lemon juice I’m going to replace it with a little shot of hot pepper vinegar. I also threw in some bay leaves while the beans were cooking.

A good hearty bowl of this stuff should help prepare me for a long, cold evening.

The leftovers freeze well, so I’ll be able to enjoy this batch of soup on several more occasions.