"Bean" Down So Long that It Looks Like Beef to Me

Here’s a tasty and economical dish from A Veggie Venture. There’s nothing cheaper, and more nutritious, than beans. The ham bone adds a touch of flavor — leave it out if you prefer your soup vegetarian. Serve this with a hunk of wholegrain sourdough bread. The price: About $6.50 for the entire meal. Not bad!

15-Bean Soup

Hands-on time: 5 minutes the night before, 15 minutes the next day
Time to table: 12 – 24 hours
Makes 11 cups

20 ounces assorted beans
1 big ham bone (my choice, but could use a couple of ham hocks or some sliced ham)
1 large onion, chopped
15 ounces canned diced tomato
1 teaspoon chili powder
Juice of a lemon (don’t skip this)
1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced (I used a tablespoon from a jar)
SPICE PACKET – I ignored this

NIGHT BEFORE: Rinse the beans and pick out any dried beans. Cover with 2 quarts of water and leave to soak overnight. The beans will expand about 3X so be sure your pot is big enough. Drain the water.

DAY OF: Put the beans in a very large pot or Dutch oven. Cover with two quarts of new water. Add the ham bone (or whatever you’re using) and onion. (The bag says to add the onion just a half hour before serving. To my taste, the onion was completely raw like that.) Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 2 1/2 hours. If a kind of scummy foam rises to the top, scrape it off with a slotted spoon and discard.

Add the tomatoes, garlic, chili powder and lemon juice and let simmer for another 30 – 60 minutes. At this point, Mary some times adds a can of drained and rinsed beans.

The Austerity Kitchen Challenge

The Austerity Kitchen Challenge sets out to prove that austerity doesn’t necessarily mean you have to eat humdrum, bland meals. Every few weeks The Austerity Kitchen will develop a new recipe that features inexpensive, readily available ingredients and post it on the site. Enticing entrees, (seemingly) decadent desserts, lovely lunches — they are all fair game for the Challenge.

We also welcome suggestions from our readers!