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Homemade Bean Soup

Vegetarians like this soup. Carnivorous families usually like some ham or smoked sausage added to the pot. It is quite tasty no matter how you put it together. When we were stationed at Yongsan Army Garrison in Korea, we shared a big pot of this soup with five or six friends. Along side a salad and crusty bread, the soup was washed down with several bottles of sparkling wine. It was at the end of the assignment and we were cleaning out the pantry. The wine was left from a promotion party and couldn’t be shipped back to the States. One of those partaking remarked on how French the meal was. We were just frugal and not wanting to let the bubbly go to waste. After dinner it is suggested to light a few candles and open a couple windows. The gas can be pretty intense especially if you have sparkling wine too.

Takes a little time
Serves 6 to 8 as a main course, Serves 14 to 16 as a starter.

1 pound mixed beans
1 large onion
3 ribs celery
2 large cloves of garlic
2 14˝-ounce cans whole tomatoes
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Bay leaves
1 Tablespoon dried basil
˝ teaspoon Liquid Smoke
Salt and pepper to taste or a good dash of Creole seasoning
1 large carrot, diced

Sort through the beans and discard any broken or unsightly beans. This is also a time to check for stones too. Rinse the beans and pour the water off through a strainer. Soak the beans in a large bowl with twice as much water as beans. Two Cups of beans should be covered with four Cups or even five or six of water. Soak overnight. Drain the beans and discard the water. Rinse again.

Chop the celery and onion. Crush the clove of garlic. Heat olive oil in large Dutch oven or heavy bottom soup pot. Sauté vegetables and garlic. Add beans, six Cups of water and the bay leaves and sweet basil. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cooking 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the beans are tender. The longer you soaked the beans the less time they take to cook. All the beans should still have form with exception of the split peas. They should fall apart. The peas will be the last ones done. Crush or cut-up the tomatoes. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper then simmer 15 more minutes. This is also a great time to add a few drops of liquid smoke. It gives a smoke taste with no meat and no fat. Taste the soup. Adjust the seasoning. If the soup is too thick or a few more people show-up, add water.

Serve the soup steaming hot in big bowls. Have a green salad and crusty bread on the side.

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