Free Diet Menu #9: 15 Bean Soup & Golden Cornbread
Written by Thin Thin
We have two different basic methods for our 15-Bean Soup recipe.
In our first method, the beans can be purchased ready-mixed at most markets. Look for the '15 Bean' type packages. Each serving contains about 110 calories (1/2 cup is the general serving size). We put a twist on our recipe, so the cook won't require any special seasoning packets.
The second method listed below is one that we would recommend for a large crowd; this is a Hobo-type pot of soup and suits the mood perfectly for Autumn events. It is more expensive than the second method because 15 cans of different types of beans will need to be purchased.
Rather than mixing together cornbread from scratch we purchase two packets or kits of our favorite mix. The cornbread goes together in a flash - and rather than make use of margarine or oil that is generally recommended in the directions, we use real butter.
This is a rarity at our house, but some recipes are best when prepared with the real deal. What does the butter accomplish? A crisp, buttery tasting cornbread that melts in your mouth. The perk? You won't need to add any type of spread so in the long-run, it might seem as if you're adding additional calories to the recipe, but in reality you'll be using less as you won't be adding more fat sources to the bread at the meal table.
1. Prepare on the Stove Top or in a Slow Cooker
If you're planning a spooky party or one that will occur in autumn or winter - or even in the chilly early months of spring, this recipe will fit perfectly with the mood. Beans are one of the comforting foods and are a very inexpensive purchase at the market. In our humble abode they are referred to as 'the poor man's beef' and they are often the star on the meal plate.
You will need the following ingredients to prepare this meal that will feed eight individuals generously. As a note, if you purchase twice the amount of cornbread kits, the meal can be stretched to about 16 servings. That's pretty impressive considering the amount spent.
1 bag of 15 Types of Beans (sells for under three American dollars at our local market)
2 cornbread kit packets plus the necessary ingredients listed on the packets for preparation using butter for the recommended fat source
You can add a pretty salad to your meal if you wish for a few more calories if you opt for light or low fat dressing. For us, the cornbread and beans fit the bill.
You'll need a very large pot filled with water. You can either soak the beans overnight, or prepare them on the day of your feast from scratch. We use the 'from scratch' method; it does require a lot longer cooking time.
We wash our beans and place them into the water before it begins to boil. We add about two teaspoons of salt. If a brown brew starts to forms as the beans boil, we skim that off.
At times, we'll add a couple of slices of lean bacon to the beans as they cook which will impart more flavor - but they are delicious with just the salt.
Most of these multiple-legume packages sold at the market come with a seasoning packet but we never use it as we prefer the non-artificial flavor of the legumes.
The beans generally require about three hours of cooking time and fresh water will need to be added to the pot as they cook and the water evaporates. Most packages state that a lid should be added to the pot as they cook - which will of course, assist in steaming the beans so that they will cook longer. As a seasoned old cook, I recommend that you don't do such until towards the end of the cooking time as it will create a huge boil-over and a big mess to clean up after the cooking has been completed.
You can put the lid onto the pot after they have cooked for about an hour; watch the pot to make sure that it doesn't boil over. If it starts to do such, remove the lid and try again in another half hour until the liquid stays put.
If you can't spare time to watch the pot then you can simply toss all these items into a crockpot and let it cook either overnight or during the day so that your meal is ready by dinner.
2. Easy Method for Large Crowd
For a Hobo style party, invite everyone to bring along a can of beans - any excepting green or yellow wax. This will cut the cost significantly.
Purchase the following cans of beans: Navy, dark kidney, light kidney, red, pinto, brown, Great Northern, lentils, black-eyed peas, baby lima, large lima, black, chick peas (garbanzo), and any other that are available at your market. Drain the beans before adding to water because each can contains its own unique flavor which at times won't compete well with other varieties due to the packing manner. Start with about eight cups of water - about 1/2 cup for each drained can. You shouldn't have need to add salt; adding a strip or two of bacon will add flavor.
Allow them to cook until hot and bubbly and serve with the cornbread. Add a can of drained Mexican-style corn to the batter along with a Tablespoon of ground chili powder and a cup of shredded Mexican cheese (reduced fat) for a Mexican-style cornbread.
What's so cool about the pre-packaged beans is that they offer unique varieties which often aren't found in canned or frozen form at the market.
This is a very inexpensive meal which can serve a lot of people and it's also fun!