Green Aisle Grocery, our neighborhood’s teeny but awesome boutique grocer (local milk in glass bottles; local produce, cheese, butter, meats, honey; things for which the twins go ga-ga, like quail eggs) carries Zursun Idaho Heirloom dried beans, which are really the cat’s pajamas. I’ve been working my way through the selection, & today’s sunshiney but chilly weather (after days of raw & rainy grey) seemed the perfect time to try out their Calypso beans.
The boys like that the beans resemble Orcas, & proclaimed it “Vegetarian Orca Soup.” Cooked, the Calypso beans have a creamy, potato-y flavor & smooth texture. After rinsing & sorting 2 cups(ish) of the dried beans overnight (covered by a few inches of water), drain the beans & get on with the base of the soup:
Saute 4 chopped onions in a big pot (this is where the cast iron dutch oven comes out) in several glugs of olive oil. Throw in 4-5 chopped celery stalks, a few chopped carrots, 3-4 chopped red bell peppers, a cup or so of frozen corn kernels (Trader Joe’s has great frozen roasted corn, which works perfectly here), as much crushed & chopped garlic as you like (in this case, a whole head, because garlic is your friend). Salt as you go, a bit at a time, to help the vegetables sweat off their juices. Throw in a bay leaf or two (just remember to remove before serving), a tablespoon or two of ground cumin, a dash of cayenne pepper, some crushed oregano. When everything is slightly soft & the onions are translucent, add a can or box of chopped tomatoes with their juices. Add the beans, & enough water to cover by an inch. Turn up the heat, bring it all to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for an hour or two, uncovered, until the beans have gone all velvety, adjusting spices to taste, just enough heat to leave a little throat-tickle. Not as heavy as chili — brighter, lighter, but still brings the heat. Serve with cornbread or tortilla chips.