Beanie baby

 

A bag of Yellow Indian Woman Beans inspires a midsummer soup.

A bag of Yellow Indian Woman Beans inspires a midsummer soup.

Soup in July? Something cool and civilized, maybe, like gazpacho or cucumber. But when I eyed a bag of heritage Indian Woman Beans the other day, something thick, hearty, and spicy came to mind. And since I’m on the beach on Southern California, where the nippy June gloom has followed us into July, I went with it. 

I’d picked up a 12-ounce bag of the dried beans on sale at World Market, where they carry heritage beans by Great Valley, for less than $3. Rancho Gordo also sells the beans for $4.95 per pound. Yes, that’s a lot for dried beans, but you can expect to pay a premium for anything with the world “heirloom” or “heritage” in the name. I’d never seen Yellow Indian Woman beans before but was intrigued by their petite size and lovely light brown (OK, yellowish) hue. Info on the label noted that the beans, which have a creamy texture when cooked and flavor similar to black beans or pinto beans, were brought to America by Swedish immigrants in the 19th century. Other sources I checked said the same thing, so either we’re all just reading the same Wikipedia entry or it’s true. Origins of the bean’s politically incorrect  name are murkier.

So I found myself with a little time on my hands, a cool day, and a hankering for soup. The result is this recipe, which got two thumbs up from my mate, so it’s a keeper.

Yellow Indian Woman Bean Soup

Using a pressure cooker means the soup comes together in a hurry, and you can use the cooker to “quick soak” the beans, as I did in step 1. Adding a whole jalapeno infuses it with pleasant heat. If you can’t find Yellow Indian Woman beans, substitute black beans. I used unsalted homemade chicken stock, but you could use store-bought low-sodium chicken broth and adjust the amount of added salt to taste.

1 (12-ounce) bag dried Yellow Indian Woman beans

1 (4-ounce) link Mexican chorizo

1 cup finely chopped onion

2 minced garlic cloves

4 cups unsalted chicken stock

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 jalapeno chile pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Additional cilantro, for garnish

 

Yellow Indian Woman Soup

Yellow Indian Woman Soup

1. Sort through the beans, discarding any split beans. Place beans in a 6-quart pressure cooker; add water to cover by 2 inches. Lock lid in place, and bring to high pressure over high heat. Reduce heat, and cook 2 minutes. Release pressure using automatic pressure release OR carefully transfer cooker to sink and run cool water over rim until pressure drops. Remove lid, tilting lid away from you to allow steam to escape. Drain beans.

 

2. Return cooker to stove. Remove chorizo from casing; add chorizo to cooker over medium heat. Cook 5 minutes, or until chorizo renders its fat, using a spoon to crumble chorizo. Add onion, and cook 3 minutes. Add garlic, and cook 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add drained beans, chicken stock, cumin, and oregano. Use a sharp knife to cut a slit in the jalapeno; add to cooker. Lock lid in place, and bring to high pressure over high heat. Reduce heat, and cook 20 minutes or until beans are tender. Release pressure using automatic pressure release OR carefully transfer cooker to sink and run cool water over rim until pressure drops. Remove lid, tilting lid away from you to allow steam to escape. Stir in salt and pepper. Discard jalapeno. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup to desired texture (or transfer soup in batches to a food processor or blender). Stir in 2 tablespoons cilantro; cook, uncovered, 5 minutes. Serve garnished with additional cilantro. Yield: 6 servings.

307 calories; 7 g total fat (2 g sat); 19 g protein; 44 g carbohydrates; 9 g fiber; 14 mg cholesterol; 551 mg sodium