Warning: this hearty winter soup is a labor of love and its preparation is not to be attempted when you need to have dinner ready soon. It takes a while to prepare (the whole day in fact), but it’s all worth it in the end when you get to draw another bowl for the next couple of days to come.
Optional beef bones with marrow
Any bean variety of choice (white beans, black beans, soy beans, etc) or alternatively green split peas
Curry powder of choice
Salt and pepper to taste
The winter soup prep-marathon of marathons begins with “cooking” the beans separately in nothing more than boiling water, but you’re not really trying to ripen them for consumption quite yet. All you’ll be doing at this stage is softening the skin so that you can peel it off by simply putting a bean between your fingers and squeezing the cotyledons out of the skin. Discard the peels. This is often quite a therapeutic process which I personally used to enjoy being a part of when my mother and grandma used to make this hearty winter soup.
Obviously this is a step you’d skip if you were using split peas instead of your selected variety of beans, but it is indeed a process that can take a while in itself depending on the beans you’ve chosen. White beans for example take a while to have their skin softened under the boil, but you’ll know they’re ready for peeling when the skin starts to shrivel up and takes on more of a milky white/ transparent color.
The marathon continues with a transfer of the skinned beans to a bigger pot. If you can get the biggest pot available to you then your soup will likely turn out as heartily as these winter soups typically turned out when our ancestors used to prepare them over a camp fire that burned the whole day during winter time.
From here it’s simply a matter of throwing all the ingredients into the pot, making sure to add water regularly throughout the day as soon as it appears to hit a level that’s below halfway down the pot. The finer you chop all the ingredients up the quicker the winter soup will cook, otherwise it’s all about slow-cooking THE WHOLE DAY.
If you’ve gone for the option of the beef bones with bone marrow (they’ll likely have little bits of meat stuck to them as well) then these can be added in a little later on, otherwise all you need to do is keep checking on the soup to make sure it doesn’t burn, i.e. that the water doesn’t run out.
The soup will be ready once it starts assuming a rich, thick and creamy consistency which would be even richer and thicker when it cools down, and when all the ingredients have disappeared to the point that they’re unrecognizable. The bones, pieces of meat and bones will naturally be the only ingredients which are visible, otherwise everything else sort of has to cook into a kind of soupy puree.
Enjoy with bread, with the simple addition of some salt or any which way you feel. If you want to be able to store the soup longer (i.e. put it in the fridge and reheat it) then it’s perhaps best not to include tomatoes in the ingredients list. Tomatoes tend to make it go off quicker once cooked.