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Crystal Wilkinson's Garlicky White Soup Beans

Garlicky White Soup Beans
Praisesong for the Kitchen Ghosts: Stories and Recipes from Five Generations of Black Country Cooks by Crystal Wilkinson
Crystal Wilkinson

Reprinted with permission from Praisesong for the Kitchen Ghosts: Stories and Recipes 
from Five Generations of Black Country Cooks by Crystal Wilkinson copyright 2024. Photographs by Kelly Marshall copyright 2024. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Wilkinson writes: "Take it old school with a healthy twist! No pork! When people around here say 'soup beans,' they are typically referring to pinto beans. This variation on a traditional Appalachian dish calls for white beans. Pinto beans and Great Northerns are similar in texture, but the white beans are milder and more delicate in flavor and they cook faster. Start with dried, which are easy to prepare and, to me, so much better than canned. (For a quick-soak method, see the Note below.) The soup’s depth of flavor comes from onion, garlic, and spices; a bit of smokiness; and the beans themselves give the broth a meaty, satisfying flavor. Serve these beans up with the cornbread, sliced onion, and relish on the side."
  • 1 pound dried Great Northern beans (you may substitute dried pinto beans) (RG Note: we suggest Rancho Gordo Alubia Blanca, Marcella, or Pinto)
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large white onion, cut into ½-inch dice
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • Table salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 4 cups (1 quart) vegetable broth, homemade or store-bought (32 ounces)

Serves 6 to 8; makes 9 cups

  1. Sort through your beans to remove any discolored or misshapen ones (or pebbles), then rinse them well in a colander. Transfer to a large bowl, cover with fresh water by an inch or two, and soak for at least 2 but no more than 10 hours. (The timed soak will help prevent splitting and sprouting.) Drain. (Alternatively, you can hot-soak the beans; see Note).
  2. Heat the oil in a deep pot over medium heat, then stir in the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring a few times, until the onion has softened and the garlic begins to brown a little, 10 to 12 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Stir in the garlic powder, liquid smoke, and broth. Add your soaked and drained beans, 1 teaspoon salt, and enough water to make sure the beans are covered by an inch or two. Cook over medium heat until the beans are creamy inside, an hour or as needed.
  3. Taste the broth and season with more salt and/or pepper as needed. Serve hot.
NOTE: If you are short on time, place your picked-over and rinsed beans in a large pot and cover with an inch or two of water. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, partially cover, and cook for 15 minutes, then remove the pot from the heat, uncover it, and let the beans sit in the hot water for an hour or two. Drain and continue with the recipe.


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