New Year’s Day Bean Soup

My friend, Diane, from my morning yoga class gives us yogis bags of beans at Christmas so we can make New Year’s Day Bean Soup. She told me she started doing this as gifts her children could give their teachers – apparently much to the kid’s chagrin that first year. But then the teachers and friends and neighbors started asking for the bags of beans. I suspect there is some ratio of the different kinds of beans, but the combination has evolved over the years, Diane told me

Their must be fifteen kinds of beans (including black eyed peas for wealth and happiness) in the Ziploc bag which included a recipe sheet. I didn’t realize how beautiful beans could be until I took this photo.


To make soup, soak the beans overnight, then drain the following morning. Add two quarts of water and a ham hock. The recipe says you don’t have to use a ham hock and you would have a tasty vegetarian version. Diane told me they often use kielbasa.

Bring the beans to a boil and simmer slowly for two hours. Then add 1 large chopped onion, a 28 oz can of tomatoes, and celery and carrots if you’ve got them on hand. Season with1 tsp chili powder, lemon juice, salt and pepper and (the directions say) any other spices that spark your fancy (basil, oregano, etc.).  Remove ham hock, cut up ham and return to the soup.  Simmer slowly for one hour or more. This soup is even better the second day.

Even if you didn’t get a bag of beautiful beans this Christmas, check out your grocery store to see what kinds of beans are on the shelf and make a kettle of nourishing winter goodness. This is a soup that begs for improvisation. I found some forgotten pulled pork in my freezer last week and that’s what I’m going to use instead of a ham hock. I’ll used my canned tomato sauce instead of store bought tomatoes. And I have have a bag of carrots from my garden that grew in wonky shapes. Chopped, they’ll be perfect for this recipe. I might even throw in some finely chopped Red Russian kale from my community garden bed. Oh, and  couple of those Hakurei turnips I harvested before the first hard frost. It’s going to be delicious.



Let It Snow!

We got snow night before last. About five inches. Nothing to brag or even whine about compared to people in Boston. But the weather predictions were enough to make us stop and think what would happen if we got 12 inches or the power went out for a couple of hours. It’s been really cold and we need electricity to keep the furnace going.

While the husband got the generator cranked up, I made a trip to Easton to fill a prescription. God forbid I should be without my miniscule (probably placebo effect) dosage of anti-anxiety medication. Then I stopped at the Acme with everybody else in the world. I wasn’t there for TP, but thought I might get a pork roast, maybe a few more fresh vegetables and some fruit. The store was a mad house and I only bought a few items. It was a good thing because there was no parking – none – by the store. But, hey, I had my FitBit snugged on my bra and managed to get in some additional steps. When it’s this cold, I am not going outside to walk so I’ll take anything I can get even though it doesn’t get me close to my 10K goal. That will have to wait for spring.

I made a pot of bean soup. One of the ladies in my morning yoga class gives everybody a bag of assorted beans as a Christmas present. This bag must have 10 kinds of beans and peas. I forgot to soak them overnight, but the recipe had an option for that.


You’re supposed to make this soup for New Year’s Day and the black-eyed peas in it bring good luck. My friend told me she started doing this when she had a business in Baltimore and totally embarrassed her children by also giving bags of beans to their teachers at Christmas. Now she and her husband give out at least 300 bags of soup beans every year. She must buy beans in bulk.

I added a piece of a smoked pork shoulder that I’d cut into cubes and we will be eating soup for days. I actually like that kind of cooking. A bowl of bean soup for breakfast is my idea of heaven. Truth be told, any leftover I can heat in the microwave for breakfast is my idea of heaven.

The snow arrived as predicted. We never lost power although others dis. The snow was beautiful. Light and fluffy – the kind that doesn’t break your back to shovel. Our drive got shoveled, my car was cleaned off and I went to yoga this the morning. We’d brought more wood to the porch in preparation, so we built a fire last night and sat down to a bowl of soup, some gluten free crackers and a spinach salad. Life is good.