This month our friend Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek waxes eloquent about beans, especially the ones he and Carol will have at this Sunday's Hillsdale Farmers Market. If you can't make it to the market, perhaps you can make his Bastard Soup.
Black Basque: A beautiful black bean characteristic of the area around Tolosa, Spain. Also called "Alubia de Tolosa." When cooked, it turns a chocolate brown. The flavor is rich and sweet, and it is traditionally served on its own, or in very simple dishes such as "Bastard Soup." See recipe below.
Borlotto Lamon: The traditional Italian bean from hills northwest of Venice. The flavor is reminiscent of chestnuts. Traditionally, used in la Jota and pasta e fagioli. La Jota is the sublime sauerkraut soup of Trieste. See Marcella Hazen's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking for the recipe. [See the recipe I posted using some of these delicious beans. - KAB]
Black Turtle: Used for Cuban black bean soup. The stock from the bean is inky black and it has a very fine texture. It is best with smoked pork, such as in Cuban black bean soup. We do not recommend this bean for vegetarians.
Coco Blanc: A round French bean with a distinct floury texture. Often served with lamb.
Colorado: A small red mexican bean. A workhorse of a red bean, good in Persian and Indian cooking, holding its own against strong spices and fragrant greens.
Pinto: A fresh, well-grown pinto is a wonderful bean. We cook it with slices of lime and garlic, and serve as a side dish.
Purgatorio: A very small thin sknned white bean originating from Gradoli (Viterbo), Italy. These beans are an excellent in dishes with fish, such as a fish based soup.
Zolfino: The Tuscan version of the sulphur bean. Lacking a distinct eye, and a bit smaller the American variety, its flavor is on the fruity side. Best served on its own, a splash of basil vinegar and some fruity olive oil suffice.
Zuppa Bastarda "Bastard Soup"
Here is an Italian black bean soup recipe from Zuppa by Anne Bianchi, courtesy of Cathy Whims. We suggest stopping by Nostrana to buy a loaf of Giana Bernadini's fine bread. This is the perfect way to have these wonderful beans, if the loaf survives the trip home - better make it two loaves. Bastard soup is so named because it uses black beans, which are called fascistini in honor of what Elda Cecchi calls "that black shirted bastard who brought Italy to the brink of destruction during WWII." On the positive side, it is very easy to prepare. "All you need," she says, "are good fascistini beans, some stale bread, and - above all - some exceptionally good extra virgin olive oil. Il gioco e fatto!" The game is won.
1 1/4 c. dried black beans, soaked
7 cloves garlic, peeled
1 med. red onion, peeled
2 tsp dried crumbled sage
8 3/4" thick slices peasant bread, stale or toasted
Salt to taste
4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
4 Tbsp. basil pesto
1. Drain the beans and place in a soup pot along with 5 cloves of the garlic, the onion, sage and enough water to cover by 2 inches. Heat to boiling over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 1 ½ hours. Add more water if necessary. Salt at the halfway mark.
2. Cut the remaining garlic cloves in half. Using half a clove for each 2 slices of bread, rub the bread with the cut sides of the garlic until the bread is perfumed with the odor. Divided the slices among 4 bowls and top each with 1 Tbs of the basil pesto.
3. Pour the bean soup into the bowls over the bread. Serve hot.