Sue’s Recipes

Favorite recipes while living in Japan

Budget Bean Soup

<strong>Budget Bean Soup</strong> (L. Lee)  was a regular part of my childhood. At the end of the month, when my father was waiting to be paid again, he would say, “It’s time to eat beans!” He would begin to cook this dish for all of us, and my sister and I would groan! Now that I am an adult, it is one of my favorite meals, because it reminds me so much of my dad.
Buy a large bag of red kidney beans. Soak these overnight in a big pot of clear water. In the morning, drain and rinse them several times.
Put them in the crock pot and fill it almost to the top with water. Cut a large onion into big chunks and put them in. Cut any green leaf vegetables you have in the kitchen and put them in. Kale or collards are the best. Cut some colorful peppers and put them in. If you have a can of tomatoes or fresh tomatoes, put them in. Canned tomatoes with green chili peppers are my favorite for this! When my mother had a successful summer garden, we would have a LOT of tomatoes in the soup.

In the south, where my father grew up, it was traditional to put a big piece of pig fat in the beans. If you can buy a peppered hog jaw, you are making very authentic beans! Of course you must add salt, and my father would add a lot of hot pepper sauce too. Sometimes if he wanted to add an extra flavor, my father would pour a bottle of beer into the beans. I like to add some brown sugar, and not so much pepper sauce. Sometimes my father would clean out the kitchen and put all kinds of unusual things into the beans. We were never sure what we would find! He liked to make us guess how the beans were different this month!

Beans can be cooked for a few hours, but they taste best when they have been sitting in the pot for a whole day or a whole night. After you have tried a bowl, you can add a little more sugar or salt or pepper or pork or beer, and the next day when you eat them again, they taste even better! Sometimes my dad would make fresh bread with his beans, and sometimes my mom would make cornbread. On a cold or rainy day, this is a cheerful meal.

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