Monday, February 1, 2010

Bean-Butter-Beer Soup

Yes, you read right, and that is no typo--Butter-Beer Soup.

My mom left the house today asking if I was going to make bean soup, and if I was, could I make cornbread too. Bean soup usually means mixed bean soup, usually with tomatoes, usually the kind of soup in which, as a kid, I would put extra ketchup and honey at the dinner table. It is a comforting soup. And though I have yet to give you a recipe for it, it is actually a tasty way to use beans. But I just did not want that darned bean soup tonight. It is the kind of soup I want to have maybe twice in a winter. That's it.

I started the beans anyway. Because my dear hard-working mother looked hopeful and tired when she had asked, and she had added that if I did not make the soup, could I please start the salad. When someone suggests making a salad, I get itchy, because what they mean by salad is the universal salad. My kind of salad is a mish-mash meeting of just about anything and everything. It is not the salad mom wanted.

So I started the beans.

Not the prettiest, I agree,
but it is rustic and full of flavor. You can't always have it all.

Like most of the soups I made during my time as a soup cook I started with a certain idea, got bored, and switched visions at the last minute. Today I had a cabbage I needed to use. (I've been dreaming of tender, fat-tenderized cabbage.) I also had some very thick cream (almost, almost butter) that we skim from the top of our milk. And yes, I had that last bottle of Great White beer. Voila: soup.

Bean-Butter-Beer Soup

This ends up being a fairly rich soup. Of course! That much butter and beer does that sort of thing. I served it with a whole wheat flatbread and sharp cheddar cheese, but it would have been lovely with rye and swiss (and a cold, hoppy beer).

2 cups dry mixed beans
olive oil for saute
3/4-1 cup butter
4 cloves garlic
2 leeks, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
1/2 head cabbage, cut in thin ribbons
1 bottle light beer (I used Great White)
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse beans and soak overnight. Drain beans and cover with two inches of fresh water. Bring beans to a boil then turn heat to low and simmer until soft and staring to fall apart.

Meanwhile, over medium heat, saute leeks, onion, and carrot in oil until soft. Add garlic and butter, cook until garlic is soft.

Combine beans and buttered mixture in a soup pot. Bring to a boil and then turn heat down to simmer. Taste. Add half a bottle of beer. Taste. We are learning here. Add the rest of the beer. Taste again. (Tasting should, in my opinion, happen often. There is a reason the cook tends to not be so hungry for the meal they make...that is half the fun!) Add salt and pepper to taste, go slow, the richness will usually mean you'll need less salt. Add the cabbage and simmer for about ten minutes, or until the cabbage is very tender.



  1. Interesting idea. Beer & butter make everything they touch better, so why combine the two?

  2. This HAS to taste good with all these delicious ingredients. It looks quite appetizing. I did think there was a typo at first:)