I know that we are often focused on quick meals.  But, sometimes you do have a day at home and there is time to put something on the stove or in the oven early in the day and let it cook and fill your house with its aroma.  I knew I would home all morning on Monday.   A couple of weeks ago, Mark Bittman had a great article about making soups in the New York Times Sunday Magazine.  I decided to try to make his bean soup.  Sunday night I soaked some pinto beans and got out my new slow cooker.  I know there is a debate over whether to soak or not soak your beans or to quick soak them.  I have recurring bean issues; namely, that it always takes forever for my beans to cook.  So, I decided to soak overnight.

I drained them the next morning.  I chopped an onion, some baby carrots, and two sticks of celery.

I put the vegetables and beans in my slower cooker with a bay leaf and a teaspoon of dried thyme.  I added 6 cups of water.  I then let it cook on low heat for about 3 1/2 hours.  Whenever I read a recipe for beans the author usually claims that the beans take an hour or 1 1/2 hours to cook.  I have never found this to be the case.  For me, bean cooking is an all day affair.  I wonder if these other people live in an alternate universe where beans cook at the speed of light or if a culinary degree gives you the magically ability to cook beans quickly.  I did read that sometimes it takes longer to cook the beans based on the type of water you have at home.  The article continued that if you use distilled water it can help speed up the bean cooking process.  I haven’t tried this out.  It just seems like a bit much to go out and buy distilled water to make a simple pot of beans.  So, I just plan on my beans taking 3-4 hours to cook.

After about 3 1/2 hours, I had wonderful aromas filling my kitchen and this delicious soup.  This isn’t a fancy soup.  It is rustic and earthy; but, a very satisfying meal for a cool rainy day.  The thyme and bay leaf really add a nice flavor to the beans and the vegetables.  I topped the soup with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and some coarse sea salt.  I then toasted a couple slices of sourdough bread.  A green salad with a simple vinaigrette would go well with this.  And, to my friends and family who have patiently listened to my obsessing over making sourdough bread, yes I did make the sourdough bread in the photo.  And, at some point I will post a description of how I make my bread.  In the meantime, definitely try out this soup.

Bean Soup

Adapted from Mark Bittman’s Creamy, Brothy, Earthy, Hearty article in the New York Times


1 onion, chopped

2 carrots (or a handful or so of baby carrots) chopped

2 sticks of celery, chopped

1 1/2 cups of dried beans (soaked overnight)

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon of dried thyme or 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme

6 cups of water

Finishing touches

Extra virgin olive oil

Coarse sea salt, kosher salt, or other finishing salt of choice

1.  Put all the ingredients and the water in a large pot or slow cooker.  If using a pot, bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer.  If using a slow cooker, set the slow cooker on high for 4 hours.  Let simmer or cook in slow cooker for 3-4 hours — until beans are tender.  You should check on the beans every 30 minutes or so to see if it is done.

2.  Ladle soup into a bowl.  Drizzle extra virgin olive oil on top.  Sprinkle salt over to taste.