Makes 6 generous servings
We find that old beans just won’t become tender, no matter how you cook them, so use fresh dried beans in this hearty, very herbal autumn dish.
• 1 pound dried white beans, washed and picked over
• 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
• 1 cup sliced celery
• 2 large cloves garlic, mashed
• 1 pound smoked Polish sausage (optional), cut in 1/2-inch dice
• 4–6 sprigs each rosemary, sweet marjoram or oregano, sage, and thyme
• 3–4 bay leaves
• 2 teaspoons ground coriander
• 8–10 cups poultry or vegetable broth, preferably unsalted, or water
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
• 2 cups thinly sliced carrots
• 2 cups diced turnips or rutabagas
• 3–4 cups thinly sliced fresh greens, such as collards, Oriental cabbage, or turnip or mustard greens, with tough stems removed
• 1/4–1/2 cup robust herbal wine vinegar
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or other fresh herbs for garnish
Place beans in a small roaster or Dutch oven and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes; turn off heat, cover, and let stand for an hour. Drain and rinse beans. Add onion, celery, garlic, sausage (if desired), herbs (except parsley), and coriander. Add enough broth or water to cover by at least 2 inches. Bring ingredients to a boil, reduce heat, and cover. Simmer over low heat about 11/4 hours, or until beans are nearly tender. Add more broth or water as needed to keep soup at about the same volume.
Add salt, pepper, carrots, and turnips. Continue cooking 25 to 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender; add more liquid if desired. Add greens and cook about 10 minutes, or until just wilted. To thicken the broth, remove a spoonful of beans with a slotted spoon, mash or blend them, and return them to the pan. Stir in the vinegar; adjust salt and pepper as needed. Garnish with chopped fresh herbs just before serving.
Madalene Hill and Gwen Barclay are herbal sages who are now relocating from Cleveland, Texas, to the tiny central Texas town of Round Top, where they will continue writing, teaching, cooking, and gardening.
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