Thursday, March 7, 2013

Irish Flag Bean Soup

This is a pretty soup that will drive off the chilly winds of March’s cool parade routes.  The orange, white and green comes from carrots, white beans, celery and green split peas.  Skip the ham and use vegetable broth if you are aiming for a vegetarian meal. 

Irish Flag Bean Soup
Makes 2 quarts of soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 stalks celery, with leaves, sliced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
½ white onion, peeled and diced
½ cup white wine
8 cups broth (chicken, turkey, vegetable)
2 cups water
ham bone (if available)
½ pound dried white beans (soaked)*
½ pound split green peas
½ teaspoon each thyme and marjoram
2 bay leaves
1 ½ cups cubed, cooked ham
½ teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste

  1. In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat.  Add celery, carrots and onion and cook 4-5 minutes until tender and just beginning to brown.  
  2. Lower heat and deglaze with white wine, using a spoon to scrape up any caramelized bits from the bottom of the pot.  If you are not using wine, deglaze with a few ounces of water or broth. 
  3. Add broth, water, ham bone, herbs and soaked white beans.  Cover and simmer 20 minutes.  
  4. Add split peas and simmer another 20-30 minutes.  Taste beans.  It may be necessary to cook the beans another 15-20 minutes to obtain a soft texture.  The beans should be just breaking down and thickening the soup.  
  5. Remove the bay leaves.  Add cube ham and taste.  Add salt to taste (depending on saltiness of ham) and a good grind of black pepper. 

*You may substitute 2 14-oz cans white beans aka, navy beans, if you do not have dried white beans.  Drain the beans and add after the split green peas have cooked 20-30 minutes and are just softening.

Add-ins and variations: My husband will add hot sauce and if there is some leftover cooked rice, a scoop of that.  Or, stir in some curry powder to create Flag of India Bean Soup.