So today I offer a warming bowl of wholesome goodness that can wash away the "Debbie Downer" of darker days. A soup that will help you retain the healthy glow of summer, full of body
And let me say a bit about shell beans, those late summer stars of the legume family that appear at your local farm stand, their showy pods so artfully swirled with bright pink! Even the beans themselves bear the gorgeous pink swirls and earn first prize for being the prettiest members of the legume family! (Too bad they loose their color in cooking!) Bring home a big bag of these beauties, pour yourself a glass of iced tea and take a seat on the porch. Busy your hands in the humble task of shelling beans that frees the mind to linger over summer's ebb and muse over the season's happiest times. I remember my mom and her friend, outside in the back yard, chatting over a bowl of green beans or peas, kids playing freely, sharing life as beans bounce into the bowl.
Perhaps fresh shell beans are not on your radar. If you are not so fortunate as to have access to these hot pink lovelies, it's okay! Substitute a 15 oz can of pinto bean or any other bean of choice, drained and added at the end. You will still enjoy a fabulous hearty meal!
Regarding the quinoa, I call for 3/4 cup, but you may want a thicker "pottage" and may opt for a bit more. But be warned that the whole batch will continue to thicken as it sits. I find that the next day, leftovers, though not mushy, have more substance due to the expanding grain. Soups are generally better next day anyway!
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 ribs celery, diced
2 large carrots, diced
1 tsp salt
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbsp smoked paprika
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 lbs shell beans, shelled, yielding about 2 cups (or 1 can of pinto beans drained and rinsed)
3/4 cup quinoa, soaked for about 20 minutes and rinsed
2 qts water, vegetable stock or chicken stock (I used water)
1-2 Tbsp vinegar (white, cider or rice are all okay to use)
salt & pepper to taste
5 oz fresh baby spinach
In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, carrots, celery and salt. Sweat the vegetables, covered and over medium heat until the onions are translucent. Add the mushrooms and bay leaf, cooking until the mushrooms are tender. Add the smoked paprika, stirring and allowing it to heat through without burning it. Add the shell bean* and the quinoa, stirring to coat everything in that beautiful orange oil. Add the water or stock (if you are using water, you will need to add another tsp or 2 of salt. If the stock is salted, no need to add more.), and raise the heat to bring it to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the vinegar to taste, adjust seasoning, and serve over a bed of fresh baby spinach.
* If you are using canned beans, just add the quinoa now, and then add the canned beans, drained and rinsed at the end, once the quinoa is cooked. Return the soup to a simmer, and finish with the vinegar and seasoning.