Unforgettable Navy Bean Soup

THE MEMORABLE BEAN!
BEANS are the most undervalued food item. Although the bean is a complex carb. like bread and starches, it feels right at home in the veggie group and holds its own in the protein group. The miraculous bean has little or no fat and is cholesterol-free. In fact the bean actually lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels in your body.  Garlic, rosemary and thyme gives this soup that unmistakable ~unforgettable ~  flavour!

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Café de La Paix, Toronto,ON

The first time I had navy bean soup was at the Colonnade on Bloor Street in Toronto. I was a teenager and I took the subway to the Cumberland Street stop and headed off to the Colonnade. After window shopping and buying a retro 20’s hat with a matching long silk scarf that morning, it was time for lunch at my oasis. I was relieved to get off my feet and settled in to enjoy my bean soup. Good times. The hat shop is gone along with the quaint cafe. But, the memories remain.  I am sharing with you my most favorite, unforgettable memories of a  sumptuous soup. Today, we celebrate the glorious bean!

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NAVY BEAN SOUP Unforgettable

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. Navy beans, dry
  • 1 Onion, Large
  • 1 Red Pepper
  • 5 Stalks Celery
  • 5 Carrots
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 4 tbsp Olive oil (or Avocado oil)
  • 5 cups home-made chicken stock* (or vegetable stock)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 tsp Rosemary, dried ~ or ~
    (1 Rosemary sprig ( 6-7 inches ), large fresh sprig)
  • 1/2 tsp Thyme, dried or 1 tsp fresh Thyme
  • 1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1/2 Tsp Pepper (fresh ground)
  • 1½ Tsp Fresh Ground Salt (Kosher or sea salt)

Meat Lovers
Optional – add  diced bacon or cooked sausage rounds during or after the cooking process for that meaty flavour.

Organic Rosemary, Garlic and Thyme

* the ratio of stock and water needs to add up to 7 cups. If you don’t have enough stock add more water. Your stock may be very concentrated and rich and you may need to adjust the ratio. Use your good judgement.
Substitution: If you don’t want to use carrots and celery replace them with 4 cups of sliced yellow onions about 3 more onions. It now becomes a Tuscany navy bean soup.
Not enough carrots? If you only have 2 carrots in the frig. add one onion in place of the 3 additional required carrots. The same applies to the celery.navy_beans

Soaking Navy Beans. The water collects carbohydrates from the beans.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Soak the navy beans for  3 hours. Change the water frequently ~ discards the carbohydrates in the ‘soaking’ water. Carbs make your beans become the “magical fruit”.)
  2. Mince the garlic, dice the onion(s), chop the celery, pepper and carrots.
  3. Sauté the onions, celery, and carrots in olive oil in the pot (dutch oven). After the onions are translucent (about 5 minutes), add the garlic and red pepper and sauté another minute or two.
  4. Add the rinsed navy beans, stock, water, smoked paprika, bay leaf, fresh ground pepper and herbs to the pot.
  5. Bring to a boil (boil for 10 minutes while stirring) then turn down to simmer. Total cooking time 90 minutes.
  6. Taste test to check if the beans are thoroughly cooked. Add salt. Taste again to see if you need more salt. We left the salt to the end because salt makes the beans hard.

Serves 6-8 (good for storing in glass jars & freezing)

ALTERNATE METHODS OF COOKING
For the following two methods, saute the vegetables in a fry pan with olive oil first before adding to the crock pot or pressure cooker.
bean-soup-2SLOW COOKER METHOD: Combine all of the above ingredients into the slow cooker and stir. Set to cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 8 hours.
PRESSURE COOKER: Beans are a perfect match for pressure cooking. Place pressure regulator on vent pipe and cook 30 minutes at 15 pounds pressure.  Use instructions included with your p.c. model. One of my sisters is always using a pressure cooker. (She uses 2 at a time) With her engineer-like mind – it’s a given. Less work and a most efficient method. Freezer friendly for another day!  Their freezer is full of goodies (and don’t last long in the freezer either). Don’t freeze in plastic or freezer bags–use glass jars– and leave a gap of one inch at the top so the jars wont crack.
I have my mason jars ready for this one to enjoy again and again. Make it once serve it thrice ( 3 times ) is my motto!!!  Give a jar to a friend adds happiness to their day.  We are giving a whole new meaning to jar heads!  ◔‿◔  ( aha!)
HAT2FOOD TIP: Common mistakes are boiling or simmering the soup too long or too high. While simmering you should not see any bubbling at all. If you can not obtain a very low simmer then add 1/2 to 1 additional cup of water/stock.  You may want to turn off the heat for 2 minutes after the 10 minutes of boil time. Gas stoves are a favorite with chefs because the heat goes right down quickly when you reduce the flames. The best choice is a pressure cooker. If you have never used one I recommend it. It seals all the moisture inside the P.C.

The Magical Fruit!

The Magical Fruit!

THE HEALTH SMART BEAN
(1) Heart healthy  💖
(2) Nutrients: antioxidants, and vitamins and minerals
(3) Economy: Beans may be the least expensive source of protein
(4) SLOW to digest: keeps you feeling full longer and aids in weight loss
(5) FIBER: 5 to 8 grams of fiber in 3 ounces (100 grams)…prevents constipation.
(6) Reduce cancer risk: 3 cups of beans per week.
(7) Blood sugar balance: Beans digest slowly which helps keep the blood sugar balanced. At the same time reduces fatigue and irritability.
(8) PROTEIN: About 1/2 cup of beans provides 7 grams of protein. The same amount of protein as in 1 ounce of chicken, meat or fish.
BONUS: Beans are inexpensive. Stock up!

BEAN TIPS beans-reduce-gas

superfoodTHE NEW SUPER FOOD
Beans are  on the list of super foods. It does not get a lot of air time. More people are discovering that the lowly, often neglected bean is not only low in cost, it is high in health benefits. Protein:  1 oz chicken=1/2 cup beans.
didyouknow2DID YOU KNOW? Garbanzo beans (chick peas) are the highest in protein of all the beans. It contains Potassium, K and very high in folate. And — is over the scale in energy! —

navyHOW DID NAVY BEANS GET THEIR NAME?
With a long shelf life, navy beans became a staple on U.S. Navy vessels beginning in the mid-1800s; earning them their name that has survived the test of time. The navy bean is the same type of bean you find in tins of baked beans.

EAT BEANS THREE TIMES A WEEK FOR YOUR HEALTH!

Chili Recipe ~a winner

Winning Chili Recipe to Remove the Fall Chill!
Another great fall dish is chili.  We had a taste testing dinner and this was absolutely the winner!  (I have one book just devoted to chili.) This is such a versatile dish that takes well to freezing as well as serving to a crowd. chili_football  The guests can serve themselves. A great dish for those fall sports parties.  Those TRUE CHILI aficionados claim there should only be meat and no beans in chili.  What the beans do is to maintain you blood sugar at a steady even level with no spikes and you have energy for hours. A fantastic meal for diabetics.
FAST FOOD: When you have to stop at a fast food place in lieu of starving, chili is a fabulous choice.  Better than salads since these will come with dressings filled with sugar and preservatives.  I will also freeze dishes like chili in individual oven proof dishes.  When  I come home from a busy day, I immediately take one out the the freezer, defrost and bake.  Serve with a salad with your homemade dressing and it’s a tasty, satisfying and healthy meal.  This recipe seems like there are a lot of ingredients but you will find almost all of them already in your pantry and the flavour is worth it!  Perfect for game day!

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INGREDIENTS
img_chili1/2 cup dried black beans, rinsed, soaked overnight and drained
1/2 cup  dried red kidney beans, rinsed, soaked overnight and drained
1/4 cup olive oil
2 onions, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
4  cloves garlic, minced
6  jalapeno chilies, stemmed and seeded
1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1 lb. cubed beef chuck or blade steak, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2  tablespoons chili powder
1  tablespoon cumin seed (ground)
1  stick cinnamon 3 inches long
2  28 oz cans diced or crushed tomatoes
1  12 oz  can stout beer
2  tablespoons tomato paste
1  tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup finely chopped sweet onion for garnish (optional)
1 cup strong cheddar cheese for garnish (optional)
1 diced avocado pear for garnish (optional)
1 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt for garnish (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS
1.  Put the beans into separate pots and cover with 3″ of salted water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low.  Cook covered, stirring occasionally until beans are tender about 60 minutes.
2.  Heat a heavy bottomed 6 quart pot over medium heat. Add  a few tablespoons of the olive oil and the diced onions 4-5 minutes until translucent.  Add garlic, green pepper, celery, and chilies.  Cook for another 4-5 minutes, adding more olive oil if required.
3.  Add meats and cook until brown.
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4.  Add chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, cocoa and tomato paste.  Cook for a few minutes and then add tomatoes and beer.
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Add beans (drained).
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5. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for 1 or 2 hours.
6. Ladle into bowls and let people help themselves to the garnishes.IMG_1436

Serves 8 to 10 adults

Getting Ready to Spring Forward

SPRING IS IN THE AIR
When I see the first bright tulip and daffodils awaken from their long winter’s nap, it  feels like Spring is here at last! spring-daffodils-snowThe weather is starting to warm up! Daylight savings time (in Canada/ U.S.) gives us one more  hour of sunlight in the evening;  encouragement for planting herbs, flowers and vegetables in your own balcony or yard.  I feel so happy when lilac trees start to bloom and the air is  filled with sweet fragrance.  Then,  I am convinced spring has truly arrived.
HEADS UP TO HEALTHY  “SPRING RESOLUTIONS”
We have New Year’s resolution why not Spring Resolutions?
Did your New Year’s goals fizzle out? Don’t be too hard on yourself. In hindsight, some of your goals may have been overly ambitious. The beginning of spring is a good time to reassess those good intentions. If you’ve fallen off of the bandwagon entirely, take this as an opportunity to spruce up those goals. Find yourself an accountability partner who will help you stay on track and also give you encouragement when you hit some of those milestones. Start a garden unless you have one already. Mix herbs with your flowers this year.
FRESH SPRING VEGETABLES
In Ontario, early  asparagus shows its short lived slender stalks in May and June. Spinach has a longer range from May -to- October, while radishes stay one month longer, to the end of November. Early greens normally appear towards the end of May.
asparagus
SUMMER VEGETABLES
Most of our vegetables arrive in the month of June (in Ontario).  Fresh peas and snow peas are my favorite treat. I have to wait until June to enjoy these delicacies. I always loved garden vegetables. My mom grew a lot of vegetables and fruit. We even had three peach trees.
MY FIRST GARDEN
I had my own little garden plot when I was 11 years old. I could grow anything I wanted. I picked strawberries and one onion. My sister’s garden was right beside mine.  The strawberries did not fare as well as the onion. The onion was massive. I could not figure out why I got so few and small strawberries.  I did learn that strawberries needed a lot of water.  I was not really worried even though I missed a few days of watering.  The joy was  watching my strawberries grow. Something I had planted myself.  I could count on mum to buy strawberries. While tending my garden, I would walk along the fence where my mum had planted raspberries years ago.  I was anxious for them to get ripe.  Nothing was sweeter.  We had red and golden raspberries all along the back fence.
my-garden
peachesOne hot summer day I wanted a peach. There was nothing in the house.  Mom said to go outside and put your hand under the peach (on the tree) and lightly tap it. When the peach falls in your hand it was ready to eat. This was exciting!  The third peach fell into the palm of my hand.  And, it was a big one! I ate the peach outside because it was so juicy.  Although my hands were dripping with peach juice, I was careful not to get any on my dress. I threw the pit under the tree  (as I was told to do) and went inside to wash up.  Note: organic peaches are safe to eat off  the tree.  I remember these wonderful days. My childhood memories were always filled with sunshine. There was an empty field behind our house that was mostly clay. The cracked clay would curl and break in the hot sun. In the summer rain, I would run outside in my bare feet to this patch of clay. I liked the way the wet clay squished between my toes as I danced in the rain. It was so much fun.
SEASONAL ONTARIO FOOD
Get the complete list of Ontario Seasonal Food. Click seasonalontariofood.blogspot.ca Its a good idea to support your local farmers.

didyouknowDid you know Spinach has 30% protein 100 calories of fresh baby spinach has 12 grams of protein while 100 calories of ground beef has 10 grams of protein. Per calorie, spinach does have more protein than ground beef.  Percentage-wise, spinach is 30% protein while ground beef is 40% protein (and 60% fat).  No FAT in Spinach!