The bulk bins at PCC hold a virtual rainbow of options for this warming, wintery soup. The steps are simple and the results are economical, beautiful and oh so satisfying! If you like the flavor of meat in your soup, tuck in a smoked turkey thigh while it's cooking.
Serves 6-8

To start:
From the bulk department at PCC choose a variety of beans and grains. You will need 2 cups total to make a pot of soup. Plan ahead, since you will need to soak the beans and grains, preferably overnight.

(On the show we used black beans, navy beans, pinto beans, adzuki beans, black-eyed peas, white wheat berries, mung beans and kidney beans, but the options are vast and you may choose any combination that your imagination dictates.)

For the soup:
2 cups beans and grains
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon of your favorite dried herb blend
OR 1 tablespoon each fresh thyme, rosemary and sage, finely chopped
8 cups flavorful stock
1 smoked turkey thigh or leg (optional)
Spike seasoning to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Hot sauce to taste

Soak the beans using one of the methods listed below. I prefer the overnight method.

In a heavy soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and herbs. You may also add a cup of chopped root vegetables such as parsnips, turnips or celeriac at this stage as well. Cook for about 5 minutes. Pour in the stock and add the beans and turkey thigh. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 45-50 minutes or until the beans are very tender. Season with Spike, salt, pepper and hot sauce to your taste. Remove the turkey thigh and let it cool a bit. Strip the meat, chop it into bite sized pieces and add it back to the soup.

-Quick soaking method: Rinse the beans and remove any rocks or residue. Combine them with 8 cups of water in a large pot. Bring to a rapid boil, and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 1 hour. Drain the beans and rinse them.

-Overnight soaking method: Rinse the beans and remove any rocks or residue. Combine them with 8 cups of water in a large bowl. Let stand overnight or at least 6 hours. Drain the beans and rinse them.

Note: a fun idea for gift giving: About 1-1/2 cups of 8 kinds of kind of beans and grains will make about 6 jars of bean soup mix. Combine them or layer them in pint jars with rims and lids. Make herb packets with 1 tablespoon of your favorite dried herb blend and tuck them into cloth tea bags (available in the bulk tea section at PCC) or in squares of cheesecloth tied with twine. Tie them to the jar with a little gift card with the recipe printed on it.

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