Tuesday, December 20, 2016

East African Bean Soup (grain-free : gluten-free : nutrient-dense)

Beans have never been one of my favorite foods. They've always been okay to me, but never anything to get excited about.  This recipe for East African Bean Soup has changed that: I love this soup, and so does the rest of my family.  This recipe has combines beans and vegetables with a flavor boost from coconut milk and curry powder. The result is amazingly delicious and, thanks to the coconut milk, this recipe is quite hearty and filling.

This recipe was inspired a recipe in Best of Regional African Cooking.

East African Bean Soup
Serves 8
  1. In a large bowl, cover the beans with plenty of filtered water and the baking soda. The beans will soak up quite a bit of water, so be sure to add plenty. Cover and allow to soak overnight. This important step reduces the phytic acid antinutrient in the beans.
  2. About 3-4 hours before mealtime, chop the onions. 
  3. Heat the coconut oil in a 4- or 6-quart pot with a lid over medium-high heat. Add the onions and a small sprinkle of salt. Sauté for 10-15 minutes, until the onions are translucent and have taken on a bit of brown, caramelized color.
  4. In the meantime, drain and rinse the beans in a colander.
  5. Add the beans to the pot with the onions. Pour in just enough filtered water to cover the beans; since the beans have already absorbed so much water during the long soaking process they won't absorb much more while cooking. In my pot, it takes about 4 cups of water to cover the beans.
  6. Bring the beans to a boil and skim off any foam that rises to the top. Salt the cooking liquid; I find that 4 tsp salt is a good amount for my family's taste preferences. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot.
  7. Allow the beans to simmer 2-3 hours, until they are fully cooked and soft.
  8. Remove and discard one cup of liquid from the pot of beans. Shake the can of coconut milk well before opening it. Add the tomatoes, coconut milk, curry powder, and green peppers to the beans. Stir the pot to mix all the ingredients together well.
  9. Bring to a boil, skim off any foam, and then simmer the soup for 20-30 minutes, until the peppers are cooked to your preference. Taste the broth and adjust the salt as needed.
  10. Ladle into bowls, serve, and enjoy!
*Madras curry powder really is the best curry powder. It has such a fantastic flavor and aroma compared to other curry powders.

What is your favorite bean recipe?

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Unknown said...

Could you use chicken broth instead of water?

Sarah Smith said...

Yes, you could certainly use chicken broth in place of the water. I, myself, like the flavor of this soup without chicken broth, but then again, I make almost all of my soups with chicken broth so maybe I like that this one is different. :)

Christy said...

Hi Sarah,
I am intrigued that you use baking soda in the soaking water to neutralize phytic acid (makes sense). I have been using the method from Nourishing Traditions (acidulated water using kombucha, sauerkraut juice, or whey), then cooking with a little baking soda to make sure the beans soften to my liking. Have you tried both methods, and do you get differing results?
I look forward to your comments!

Kate said...

This is a delicious and satisfying soup that the whole family loved. I was pleased to find the Madras curry on sale at our local Safeway. It is indeed wonderful and I will be using it for my other curry dishes from now on. Plus, I am just smitten with the old-timey spice tin it comes in!

Sarah Smith said...

Hello Christy,
I, too, used the Nourishing Traditions method for years. But, I found that often, the beans would not soften properly after being soaked in an acidic medium, even if they were cooked for a very long time. A few years ago, there was an article on the WAPF website that recommended using baking soda in the soak water for beans; I tried that and found it to work so much better than using an acidic medium, so I've done it that way ever since.

Susan said...

Just made this soup for the second time and had to come on here and tell you how much we love it! It is just so yummy! There is only 2 of us in the house these days, so I like the fact that the leftovers freeze well for future dinners. My hubs told me it is now one of his favorite soups. Thanks for sharing the recipe with us, Sarah!

Sarah Smith said...

Yay, I'm glad you both like it, Susan! It's one of my favorites, too. Just ate some for dinner last night.