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Red Bean and Walnut Soup

This soup is of Georgian origin, where pairing red beans and walnuts appears to be some sort of national pastime. It sure beats baseball. This is a rustic soup, lusciously creamy and actually good for you, too. (Unless you overload on the olive oil, that is. Since I don’t specify quantities there, on your own head be it.)

I definitely plan to make this again. Next time, however, I think I will use it in a shallow bowl or curved plate as the bottom saucy layer of a plated entree, instead of serving it as a soup on its own. It was wonderful as a soup, but I think it would also shine as part of a composed dish.

Every recipe is a building block. Every recipe is not just a meal, but also a component and a tool.

How would you suggest using this as part of a composed dish?

Around this time last year, we were making: Sweet and Sour Lotus Root

Red Bean and Walnut Soup
(adapted from Please to the Table by Anya von Bremzen and John Welchman)
1 lb. dried red beans (we used Rio Zape heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo)
10-12 C chicken stock (you can use half water if you must)
Olive oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
1/2 C walnut pieces, ground in a Sumeet or food processor
2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 C tarragon vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Chopped fresh cilantro and parsley for garnish

Rinse the beans and soak them in water overnight.

Drain the beans, then put them in a pot with 10 C chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the beans are tender and almost (but not quite) mushy. This may take about an hour and a half, depending on your beans. Alternatively, you can cook them in your pressure cooker for about 35 minutes.

Puree some of the beans and stir back into the pot (or use an immersion blender). Salt and pepper to taste. Let it simmer while you deal with the next step.

In a separate pan, saute the onions in olive oil until they are golden but not too brown, about 15 minutes. Stir in the garlic and saute for another minute or two.

Stir the onions, garlic, and oil into the beans, and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Remove from heat.

Stir in the ground walnuts, crushed coriander seeds, and tarragon vinegar. Let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.

If need be, stir in extra chicken stock to thin the soup further, and adjust the seasoning to taste. I rather liked a lot of black pepper in this.

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12 Responses to “Red Bean and Walnut Soup”

  1. deb says:

    So, I don’t have any serving suggestions but just wanted to say how excited I am to see a recipe from this book. Alex bought it for me last month, and I’ve tried to crack it open but I’m just daunted by the options, and am having a hard time imagining how many of the dishes would taste.

  2. Bron says:

    Sounds delish, do you think it would work well with some chicken dumplings, gnocci or similar.
    It looks the perfect Autumn fare, which it feels like here today.

  3. nex0s says:

    I’d love to this with see some braised oxtail (osso bucco?) or short ribs – hearty winter food.

  4. Barb McMahon says:

    Hmmmm…. I’m thinking that if it’s left fairly thick, you could pair it with polenta and maybe some sauteed mushrooms…

  5. Helen says:

    I can see what Deb means about the book if this recipe is similar to the rest of the contents. It sounds and looks delicious, but at the same time, I have a hard time imagining what walnuts will taste like with coriander seeds and tarragon vinegar….Sorry for the lack of suggestions but that’s why! I would be tempted to put some meat in there though. Some lamb maybe?

  6. Danielle says:

    Deb – I love this book! It has a great lentil and apricot soup recipe, too. I actually bought a copy for brother, I so enjoyed what I’d made from it myself.

    Bron – That’s a great idea, one that hadn’t at all crossed my mind. Thank you!

    nex0s – That’s sort of what I was thinking, yum. I actually braised some oxtail last night, but of course now I’m all out of the soup.

    Barb – Polenta – what an interesting idea! Thank you.

    Helen – Lamb sounds great with this, thank you! The book really does have a lot of interesting ideas, though not all are so hard to imagine. The more classic Russian ideas are easier to wrap my head around, at least. It’s just that Georgian cuisine in particular is known for strange taste combinations.

  7. Lydia says:

    I’ve had this book in my library for years, and have totally forgotten about it. Thanks for the reminder that it is filled with wonderful recipes. For some reason, I can imagine this dish, a little bit thicker, with shish kabob.

  8. kate says:

    i think this dish sounds super. Would be lovely with crusty bread or maybe parathas. Just delicious. Its a gr8 recipe.

  9. Annemarie says:

    Never thought of including ground walnuts in a soup before (or in many things other than sweet dishes). I would agree with the suggestions of lamb and polenta, and a cinnamony walnuty baklava or some such for dessert.

  10. Gabi says:

    Looks delicious! I agree about it sounding good as a component of another dish. Can’t wait to see what you come up with.

  11. Cakespy says:

    I like the polenta and mushrooms suggestion–but whatever you come up with will be great I am sure!

  12. Danielle says:

    Lydia – Yeah, I can see that!

    kate – Mm, parathas.

    Annemarie – Yes, I think the lamb idea is definitely in the lead.

    Gabi, Cakespy – Thank you!

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February 2008
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