I have been so excited about trying my heirloom beans, but it was hard to decide what to make. First of all these aren’t ordinary beans, so I didn’t want to waste them on any old recipe. Second of all, every single recipe in Heirloom Beans: Great Recipes for Dips and Spreads, Soups and Stews, Salads and Salsas, and Much More from Rancho Gordo sounded like something I wanted to try. Well, I finally settled on yellow eye chowder, because I love, love, love bean soups.
The recipe calls for smoked chicken, which I didn’t have. I planned on using some bacon and a few chicken thighs as a substitution. But, I had this wonderful, fabulous bacon from my CSA. It was so unbelievably smokey, that I thought the chicken would really add nothing to the dish. So, I went with the bacon alone. This was wonderful. The yellow eye beans were creamy and had a similar, but milder flavor than black eye peas. The sweet potatoes complimented them really well, and the sage added an earthiness to the dish. Really nice!
Sorry for the bad picture. I think it’s hard to make a bean soup attractive. And what’s up with that piece of sage leaf that looks like half an arrow!?
Yellow Eye Chowder
Serves 6 to 8
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound yellow eye beans
2 small sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 pound smoked chicken (or bacon!)
3 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
salt and fresh ground pepper
fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
Soak beans overnight.
Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and garlic and saute about 10 minutes. Add the beans and their soaking water, add more water if necessary to cover the beans by about an inch. Bring to a boil, cover partially, and simmer until the beans are just starting to soften, about an hour.
Add the sweet potatoes, chicken, sage, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer, and simmer gently for about 20 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes and beans are tender. Serve garnished with parsley.
(Since I used bacon, I skipped the olive oil. I sauteed the bacon until it was crisp, and then sauteed the vegetables in the bacon fat, and proceeded with the recipe as it was written, omitting the part about adding the chicken.)