Swedish Brown Bean Soup

Well, it appears that our rare, sunny streak in San Francisco has come and gone. Now back to the cool, foggy perfect-for-soup weather that we know and love. And, Spring cabbage abounds, so what better excuse to try a new heirloom bean and cabbage soup?

For this recipe (you may want to double this recipe if you want leftovers!) we used :
1/2 pound Swedish brown beans, soaked in cold water for 2 hours before cooking
6 slices high-quality bacon
3 cups sliced green cabbage
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp molasses
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp grated lemon zest
2 Tbsp chopped, fresh parsley

Put the beans and their soaking liquid in a soup pot and add enough cold water to cover by one inch. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently until the beans are about halfway done, 45-60 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large, heavy skilled over medium heat, saute the bacon until the fat is nearly rendered but the bacon has not begun to brown, about 8 minutes. Pour off all but 1 Tbsp of the fat, leaving the bacon in the pan.
 Add the cabbage and toss with the bacon fat to coat. Cook the cabbage over medium heat until wilted and beginning to brown, 6-8 minutes. Add the cider vinegar and a pinch of salt. Stir and toss for 1-2 minutes.
 Add the cabbage, bacon, molasses, brown sugar, and 1 tsp salt to the beans. Cook uncovered, over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, about 1 hour. Add water if the soup is too thick.
 In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest and parsley. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garnish with the lemon zest mixture.


Mexicana Salad

This salad is delicious and fun! Plan for an overnight bean soak if you're using dry beans. Prep and cooking time is about 60-90 minutes. Serves 10-12.

You'll need:
8 oz dry black-eyed peas
8 oz dry red kidney beans
1 large sweet potato
1 large red onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
3 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/4 chopped fresh basil
3 flour tortillas
1 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan
1/4 cup sour cream or Greek-style yogurt

For the dressing:
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp olive oil

For the guacamole, use your favorite homemade or store-bought recipe.

1. Soak the beans in a large bowl of cold water overnight. Drain and cook in a LARGE pan of rapidly boiling water for 30 minutes, or until just tender (taste test occasionally to check). Skim any scum that appears on the surface during cooking. DO NOT overcook or the beans will become mushy. Drain and set aside to cool.

2. Chop the sweet potato into large pieces and cook in boiling water until tender. Drain and combine with the onion, bell pepper, tomato and beans. Stir in the basil.

3. To make the dressing, shake the ingredients in a container until combined. Pour over the salad and toss to coat.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using a small, sharp knife, cut cactus shapes or large triangles out of the tortillas, brush lightly with oil and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake for 5-10 minutes, or until they are crisp and golden.

5. Grab or make your guacamole.

6. Pile the guacamole in the center of the salad, top with sour cream or yogurt and arrange the cactus shapes on top.