Mixed Bean Soup with Fresh Herbs

Are you like me who makes a quick list before heading into a store? I’ve been that way for some time and my lists that I keep during the week add up. These lists though allow me to make my driving routes and get into stores quickly and efficiently as I make attempts to stay clear of those who may look sick (coughing, sneezing, etc), especially this time of year. Not too long ago however I found myself checking off my list of things to get at Costco, but then got sidetracked, most likely because I saw some sickos ahead of me and turned down an aisle that I did not need anything from, that is until I saw a big bag of mixed beans that looked great, even in their uncooked state. We always talk about getting more legumes into our diet, so I was already sold.

Mixed Bean and Fresh Herb Soup Recipe
Mixed Bean and Fresh Herb Soup Recipe

So I have been making soup at least once a week recently, most likely due to the season, and granted I made French Onion Soup back to back, I decided I was going to use up those beans and turn them into a Middle Eastern style soup, and this one a mixed bean soup with fresh herbs, and pork. This soup was so good, and we knew it as we ended up eating it again the following day for another dinner.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 3 cups of mixed beans, washed and soaked in water overnight (I used a blend of mixed beans including garbanzo)
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups pork shoulder, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 3/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • cracked black pepper, to taste
  • fried onions, optional

Start by soaking your beans overnight in cool water in a large bowl. When you are ready to make the soup, rinse and strain the beans.

Heat a soup pot on medium heat. Add in the oil and bring to temperature. Toss in the onion, and stir, cooking for about 7 minutes. Next, toss in the garlic, and turmeric and give a good stir. Cook for about 3 minutes, then add in the strained beans. Give a good mix, then add in the stock, water, and pork. Cook this for about 2 hours, covered on medium-low heat.

Once the beans are tender, check about 1 hour in, add in the salt and cracked pepper. Start with about 2 tsp of salt as the beans can handle that, and about one teaspoon of black pepper. Stir and continue to cook. Taste for any additional seasoning. Add more if necessary.

Mixed Bean and Fresh Herb Soup
Mixed Bean and Fresh Herb Soup

Add in the fresh herbs and spinach, stir and cook for about 10 more minutes to allow those herbs to perfume the soup.

Now you are ready to serve.

Mixed Bean and Fresh Herb Soup
Mixed Bean and Fresh Herb Soup

Ladle the soup into a bowl and top with fried onions.

The end result is really comforting. You get the creamy beans, still having some texture, along with the fresh herbs which are the real star, and the super tender pork and crispy onions. It’s really a great bowl of soup, plus super healthy to boot. What is not to love about that? So thank you to the person who sneezed an aisle ahead of me and allowing me to turn down that aisle at Costco. Those beans and I thank you. Hope you enjoy!

Filipino Bulalo

I often wish that there would always be a pot of soup of the stove. Warm and ready to go any time of the day, all day, and every day. How cool would that be, especially if you had a wood burner or something and it was your task to keep that warm pot of goodness warm all day long. I know I would be into something like that! I don’t want to be premature but I think fall sprung in Wisconsin. What does that mean? Well, what it means every fall Sunday at the Phillips house; comfort food season.

This weekend was no exception. The chicken pot pie came rolling out as did pumpkin spiced ‘you name it desserts’, as well as soup. The thought of soup seemed like a warm blanket on a cold afternoon. Granted chicken pot pie is that thickening agent that just coats your stomach lining, and almost putting you instantly to sleep, but that soup on the otherhand, well that got me thinking. Thinking not only about how delicious each bite would be, but thoughts of making a rustic bread,, and leaving that soup of the stove all darn day only to be had more of later. That’s when I thought of the communal Filipino soup known as Bulalo.

Filipino Bulalo Soup Recipe
Filipino Bulalo Soup Recipe

The thing about bulalo is that it might be intimidating if it is served in front of you without ever have tried it. It’s almost like a Mexican caldo de res where you get large chunks of meat and vegetables. It’s definitely a spoon, fork, knife, and hand meal so probably best to eat around close friends and family in case you get down and dirty and want to roll up your sleeves, not have a care in the world and just get to town on some bone marrow!

Yes, the bone marrow. It’s the luxurious part of this soup and part of the beauty. Beef bones with marrow, cooked really low and slow until pot roast tender. That’s this soup. Simple, delicious, and slurpable.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 lbs of beef shanks
  • water
  • 2 bundles of bok choy, quartered whole
  • 3 ears of corn, cut into half, or quarters
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • pinch of salt, to taste
  • 1 head garlic, top cut off (exposing cloves)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce, more to your liking
  • 1/2 small green cabbage, roughly chopped
  • limes, optional
  • cooked jasmine rice, per serving
  • fried shallots, optional
  • fried garlic, optional

Start by adding cold water to a stock pot. Add the beef shanks (find these on the cheap at local Mexican grocery stores), and turn on the heat to a medium high heat.

Cook the shanks for about 15 minutes or until they come to a boil for about 5 minutes. During the boil, get a large spoon out and skim the top surface of all of the bone scum. Discard the scum. We are going to discard the water and scum anyway but it’s always nice to get rid of the majority ahead of time.

Put a strainer in your sink and pour the beef and water into the strainer. Rinse the beef well.

Rinse out the stock pot. Place the bones back in the pot along with the onion, garlic, and peppercorns. Fill to cover with water, and return to a boil.

Filipino Bulalo Soup Recipe
Filipino Bulalo Soup Recipe

While the beef is boiling, continue to skim off any scum that comes to the surface and discard. After about 4 hours, remove the garlic, onion, and any peppercorns.

Season the stock with fish sauce and some salt. Stir and taste. If the stock is getting a bit low, add a bit more water to your liking, just keep the beef stock flavored as you add more water.

Add in the corn and cook on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes or so. Once the beef is ultra tender, add in the bok choy and cabbage. I tossed in a small amount of fresh green beans from our garden as well (not necessary), and give that a good stir. Good for another 10 minutes or so, give a taste and adjust salt if necessary.

When you are ready to serve, transfer some of the soup mixture into a soup serving bowl, ensuring some beef bone, corn, and cabbage, then give a good squeeze of lime. Serve alongside a big bowl of cooked jasmine rice, and dig in! I like to top mine with fried garlic chips and shallots, and some fresh chili, but that’s just me.

Not only is this a great communal dish, but it is one that is perfect for long, cold days and evenings, and one that is sure to please a crowd.

Get a plate. Take some rice onto the plate. Slurp some broth. Spoon out some chunks of cabbage or beef onto the rice. Get into it. Repeat.

Hope you enjoy!