I happened across something the other day at my local grocery store that I'd never seen before … fresh beans in their pods! It's really rather odd that I've only ever cooked with dried beans, since beans form such an important part of my diet, but I'd never been able to find them before at any grocer or market despite the fact that Ontario grows plenty of beans … although apparently mostly white pea beans.
In any case, I was very excited to buy these fresh colorful beans even though there was no sign identifying what kind of bean they were (and the cashier didn't know either). I looked them up at home and found that they were cranberry beans, also known as borlotti beans. Both the pods and the beans inside are an attractive mottled white and pink, although they lose the pink color when cooked. They have a mild and pleasant nutty flavor similar to pinto beans, which makes them a great addition to soups … which is just what I did now that the cool fall soup season is coming upon us.
I've written up this simple, hearty and nourishing fall vegetable soup with barley and the wonderful anise flavor of fresh fennel as though you were using dried beans (which is what most of us will most often have at hand). But if you do happen to find fresh beans, you will certainly enjoy their firmer and fuller texture. Simply snap them out of their pods and boil them in a pan of water for 20 to 30 minutes or until tender — they don't need to be soaked but they do need to be cooked, so don't be tempted to eat them raw. To get 2 cups of fresh beans, consider buying about 1 3/4 pounds (800 grams).
|Cranberry Bean, Barley and Fennel Soup|
|Recipe by Lisa Turner|
Published on September 15, 2014
Simple, hearty and nourishing fall vegetable soup with cranberry beans, barley and fresh fennel
This is my contribution to My Legume Love Affair, a monthly event celebrating legumes, started by lovely Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook, now administered by me and kindly hosted this month by Valli of Ammaji Kitchen.
Other nourishing fall bean and vegetable soups you will enjoy:
Romano Bean and Vegetable Soup
Beet, Barley and Black Bean Soup
Indian Chickpea and Pumpkin Soup
Indian-Spiced Squash, Pear and Adzuki Bean Soup with Lightly Braised Mixed Mushrooms
On the top of the reading stack: short stories by Franz Kafka
Audio Accompaniment: silence, for a change