souper man

I posted earlier today on Facebook that one of the grocery items in my second-ever Jet order was a bag of Hurst’s HamBeens 15-bean soup, which I think I’m going to make tomorrow, while I’m recuperating from a late night at the show tonight. I’ll have it to and enjoy over the rest of the holiday weekend, and then a little extra to go into the freezer.

I have blogged about this product in the past, but it’s been a while, and so I’m going to wax poetic about it. It’s been a favorite of mine for many years.

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You can find it in the dried bean aisle of the supermarket, because that’s basically what it is – dried beans, plus a small packet of a smoky seasoning. You add other ingredients to turn it into soup – meat (ham, hamhock or smoked sausage), water, a can of diced tomatoes, garlic, onion, a little chili powder and the juice of a lemon. This leaves room for some experimentation, of course. It feels more like a recipe than like processed food.

It’s easy to make, but slow-cooking. You have to soak the dried beans overnight, then you cook them with the onion and with your meat of choice, add the other ingredients and the little seasoning packet, and cook some more. The combination of different beans gives the soup a great texture – you have just enough creamy thickening from the beans that break down, while you still have individual beans in there to give the soup a hearty, meal-worthy bite. Don’t skip the lemon juice – it adds just the right little bit of tanginess to perk up the slow-cooked flavor.

It’s wonderful the night you make it, and – like many soups and chilis – even better when you reheat the leftovers the next day. It also freezes well, as long as you use it before it gets freezer burn. (I miss my FoodSaver. I need to get a new one the next time I get a tax refund or something like that.)

In addition to the basic product you see above, they make other flavors. I’ve tried the Cajun flavor, which is fine, and so is the beef flavor.

On my Facebook post, Donna Brock asked if I was going to have cornbread with the soup tomorrow. That would have been a great idea, and I wish I’d thought of it while I was at the store. Instead, I already bought some canned biscuits. They’ll be good too.

It feels like summer today, but as the weather starts to cool off, and it will, this is the perfect fall meal.

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.