A few years back my town decided that it needed a newspaper of its own to cover events in the community that the larger "city" paper did not cover. The Gorham Times was born. The town was excited and lots of us participated. I wrote a cooking column called Annah's Pantry. It was not to be about me but rather community participation. So twice a month I would start scurrying for community participation. I started with the ladies from church who brought the sweets for coffee hour and then moved on to the ladies who brought the casseroles for the church suppers. I went to the Garden Club, the Women's Club, local businesses, the town office, the schools and my poor friends. And every two weeks there was a new Annah's Pantry. Whew!
My middle name is Annah. The spelling I believe is Quaker and I have always loved it. I had just remodeled our house and I had added a pantry/office/wet bar so it seemed a perfect name. The logo came from clip art and I quite fancied it.
My friend Patti was always ready with a recipe for the column and we both liked gifts from the kitchen. So French Market Bean Soup Mix was a natural (and it took up almost the whole column!) This recipe makes a lot of gifts! Are you ready?
All beans are dried.
French Market Bean Soup
1 1/2 pounds of large Lima beans, Great Northern beans, baby Lima beans, yellow split peas, navy beans, cranberry beans, whole green peas, split green peas, kidney beans, small red chili beans, and black turtle beans.
1 pound aduki beans, black eyed peas, and pink beans.
3 pounds barley.
Combine all of the above except the barley. Add 1/3 cup barley to each packet or jar of the bean mix.
Bouquet Garni1/2 teaspoon of dried basil, summer savory, thyme leaves, and sage leaves. 1 1/2 teaspoons parsley, 3 bay leaves, and 5 peppercorns. Tie the mixture in little bags of cheesecloth or muslin. Make many of these.
This mixture attractively packaged and labeled is then presented with a recipe card for the soup.
We did not have all the computer capacity that we have now so each card was hand written. The soup can be served with a scoop of rice in which case you would need to have that ready when the soup was done.
French Market Bean Soup
Wash and drain beans and peas. In a large pot with 3 quarts water add 1 meaty ham hock, 28 ounce can tomatoes, 2 cups chopped onion, 2 cups chopped celery, 3 cloves chopped garlic, 5 teaspoons salt (or less) and the bouquet garni. Simmer covered 2 1/2 - 3 hours covered. Then remove the meat from the ham hock and return the meat to the pan. Simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours. Watch the level of water. Then add 1 pound of smoked sausage, sliced and 2 raw chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces. Simmer for about 40 minutes. Serve with fresh chopped parsley on a scoop of white rice. I make the rice after adding the sausage and chicken.
Now you could cut down on all the beans by going to a "whole" foods type of store and getting 1/2 cup of each bean but it is fun to package this up and give it away during the holidays or just because. This is best made a day ahead as the flavor improves. Serves 10-12.
There are many variations of this soup and the mixture of the beans so that you can experiment which one of may favorite ways to cook!