A great majority of Slovaks can’t imagine their day without a good, wholesome soup. As the days are getting shorter and colder with the approaching autumn, a pot of homemade soup gives both warmth and energy. It is particularly true about this creamy bean soup, which is often eaten as a meal on its own in my country.
We have grown our own varieties of legumes (including dry beans) for centuries, which is often reflected in our traditional folk culture. This old Slovak song, which most of our children get familiar with at kindergarten, is a good example:
Šošovička, hrášok fazuľa,
kde ste boli, tetka Zuzuľa?
Bola som ja po vodičku,
budem variť šošovičku.
And here is how it could go in English:
Lentils, peas and beans
Auntie Suzy, where have you been?
To get water from the well down the street
I’m gonna cook lentil soup for a meal.
Creamy Bean Soup
- 250 g dry beans
- water (about 2 l altogether)
- 4 large potatoes
- 200 g cream (12% fat content in Slovakia)
- 2 tablespoons fine flour
- 2 sprigs fresh dill or 4 teaspoons frozen one
- salt, black pepper, marjoram to taste
- 2 tablespoons apple vinegar
- Rinse the dry beans thoroughly under running water. Soak them overnight in a large bowl filled with cold water. The beans will double in volume by the following day, so make sure there is enough water to cover them as they grow.
- Drain the soaked beans on a sieve and discard the water. Remember that certain varieties of raw beans contain a toxin which is only destroyed in the process of cooking.
- Rinse the beans again under running water and put in a cooking pot with about 1½ l cold water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally and adding more water when needed.
- Meanwhile, peel and wash the potatoes. Rinse and chop the dill. When the beans are almost tender, add to them the potatoes and bring to the boil again. Reduce the heat and cook together for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt, black pepper and marjoram.
- In a small bowl, mix the cream with the flour until smooth. Pour the mixture into the beans and bring to the boil, stirring the soup until it thickens. Turn down the heat and add the fresh or frozen dill. Let simmer for another minute, stirring all the time. Pour in the vinegar, stir well and serve hot in soup bowls.
Apart from being rich in protein, vitamins and minerals, beans also have plenty of soluble fibre, which is believed to help lower blood cholesterol. The vinegar not only perks up the soup’s flavour, but also helps reduce the flatulence caused by the beans.