Spiced Calypso Bean Soup

  • 1/4 cup rice (uncooked)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 8 oz. red calypso beans, uncooked (other dried beans may be substituted)
  • 1 tablespoons salt
  • 8 cups vegetable broth*
  • 4 slices finely chopped, cooked bacon
  • 1/2 teaspoon tarragon, dried
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme, dried
  • a pinch of rosemary, dried
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin, ground
  • a splash of cognac

Pick through the beans and toss anything you don’t want to cook. Rinse the beans, drain them, and put them in a bowl. Pour warm water to cover the beans, plus several inches extra, and add 1/2 tablespoon salt. Discard any beans that float. Stir to dissolve the salt and soak overnight.

Cook the rice with the water, 1/4 teaspoon salt, cayenne, dry mustard, and white pepper. Set aside.

Put the beans in a pot with water to cover, plus several inches extra, and the other 1/2 tablespoon salt. Simmer until they’re just becoming tender, and aren’t crunchy any more. (This will probably take anywhere from a half-hour to an hour and a half, depending on the beans.) Make sure they stay covered with liquid.

Put the broth, bacon, tarragon, thyme, rosemary, and cumin in a pot. Bring to a simmer. Drain the tender beans or lift them out of the water with a slotted spoon and add them to the broth, bacon, and spices. Simmer for another 15 minutes. Add the rice. Simmer for another 15 minutes. Add the cognac, simmer for another two minutes, and serve.

*If your broth isn’t as well-seasoned as ours is (we use Knorr vegetable bouillon), you’ll want to taste the soup before you serve it and add salt, pepper, and any other seasonings you think relevant. (Mind you, tasting and adjusting the seasoning is a good idea anyway!)

Note: Every bag of beans is a little different; it may take you a little experimenting before you have a good feel for how long they need to be soaked and simmered. By all means, if you have a different set of numbers that work for you, use them.

Carrot Calypso Variation

  • 1 lb carrots (peeled, chopped small)
  • 2 bell peppers of any color(s) (seeded, diced)
  • 1 ounce prosciutto (ripped into small pieces or diced)
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomato (drained)

Add all of these ingredients with the beans. When you’re ready to serve, remove about three cups of the soup and puree it in a food processor; return to the soup. (This will give it a bit of body and thickness.) Alternatively, use an immersion blender a couple of times to puree a little bit of the soup until you like the thickness.

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