Thursday, April 26, 2012

What’s for Dinner: Mayocoba bean and ham soup

I really must have beans on the brain lately. Either that, or the weather has been too chilly here and beans fit the mood.

Ever heard of Mayocoba beans? Me either. According to Cook’s Thesaurus, they are called Peruvian, Canary or Perruano beans, and can be substituted for pinto beans and vice versa. My friend Fran Carlson of Carlson-Arbogast Farms in Howard City, Michigan grows them.

I got a sample of dry Mayocoba beans from the Michigan Bean Commission booth at a conference last year (a small perk for the dietitian attendees). I had not done anything with the beans yet, and it was time. I had a ham bone left over from Easter dinner in my freezer, but no specific recipe, so I decided to wing it.

I like to do the traditional long soak method for dry beans (8 hours overnight in the refrigerator) as I find the beans are easier to digest than when using the “quick” methods. (Click here for soaking methods and bean cooking tips).

Mayocoba bean and ham soup

1 pound mayocoba dry beans, soaked overnight, then rinsed
8 cups water (about) for cooking 
1 ham bone with bits of ham attached (there was less than 1 cup of ham chunks)
3-4 stalks celery, chopped (use the leaves, too)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2-3 large potatoes, cubed (I used red skinned with yellow flesh)
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and chopped
1 28-ounce can diced, (stewed) tomatoes
Salt to taste (I used 1 teaspoon)
Dried Thyme to taste (I used 1 teaspoon)

Put soaked beans in large stock pot and add water. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat. Simmer for about 2 hours. Add ham bone and simmer 30-45 minutes more. Remove bone, set aside. Meanwhile, add celery, onion, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, salt and thyme; simmer 30 minutes. Trim ham from ham bone (if there is any) and add chopped bits of ham to soup. Serve.

Makes about 8-10 servings (depending on amount of water added). Nutritional information per serving: 294 calories, 15 grams protein, 2 grams fat, 54 grams carbohydrate, 14 grams fiber, 7 milligrams cholesterol, 650 milligrams sodium.

Food safety note: Bean soup, once heated, retains heat longer than many other foods.  You will want to cool the soup down within two hours to prevent food poisoning bacteria from multiplying and making you sick; putting the big pot in the refrigerator won’t do the trick (it will be in the “danger zone” for hours). I like to split the pot of soup into several small pans or bowls before refrigerating to give the soup a chance to cool quickly.  

This time, I put one-third of the soup in a stainless steel 8 by 13 inch baking pan, and the rest of the pot went into a sink full of ice (see photo). I stirred the soup on and off for about one-half hour, and the soup sitting in the ice bath cooled down nicely so I could safely refrigerate it.

p.s  My “wing it” bean soup recipe was a winner (my husband declared it a “10” on his bean soup scale). There was no need to freeze the extra, because he liked it so much it became his lunch a few days this week.

Click here for lots of bean recipes from the Michigan Bean Commission, in case you have beans on the brain, too.

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