Dutch food: bean soup

Bean soup is a traditional Dutch full-meal soup, similar to pea soup. Because the original is quite heavy and wintery, and because it would be a bit boring to put a recipe online that is so similar to one that I already have on this website, I decided to jazz it up with some spices and some roasted red paprika’s to make it more summery. The recipe is a cross between goulash soup and a Serbian bean soup that I found in a cookbook. Normally bean soup is made with brown beans, but I’m not completely sure that those are available abroad, or how they are called abroad. Sometimes white beans are used as well, I used the borlotti beans that I had leftover in my cupboard, but I think you could use any bean (or even lentils or chickpeas) you like.

Bean Soup

Bean soup (serves 4-6)
250 g dried beans
olive oil
100 g of smoked bacon, cubes
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tin (70 g) tomato purée
2 tsp sambal badjak
1 L water
2 beef stock cubes
2-3 bay leaves
6 cloves
2 juniper berries
3 sprigs of thyme
2 sprigs of majoram (or oregano)
1 tsp pimenton de la vera dulce

2 red paprika’s

Soak the beans: place them in a large bowl and cover with water generously. Leave to soak for 24 hours.
Heat a large Dutch oven with a splash of olive oil. Add the bacon and onion, until the bacon releases its fat and the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic, fry for another minute. Add the tomato purée and sambal, fry for a few minutes to de-acidify and release the flavours.
Throw away the soaking liquid from the beans and rinse them. Add them to the pan together with the remaining ingredients. Stir well and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer, cover the pan with a lid and cook for at least 1 hour, but preferably longer. I simmered mine for 3 hours. Stir occasionally, to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.
Slice the red paprika’s in strips and grill them in a hot skillet. Add to the soup at the end of cooking time.
Serve immediately, or cool down (keeps for a few days in the fridge or a few months in the freezer).

Note: Beans contain a toxic substance (phytohaemagglutinin), therefore you need to soak them for at least 5 hours, discard the soaking liquid, and boil them for at least 30 minutes at 100C. This means that the toxin is not deactivated when you prepare beans in a slow cooker (which typically only reaches a temperature of 80C). Canned beans can be eaten directly, as they already have been processed this way.

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