Bean Soups

Soups fill our winter evenings, and the most filling ones start with beans. Get bean soup recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
Soups fill our winter evenings, and the most filling ones start with beans. I love cooking with dried beans and tend to store many types in quart jars—which means I often have jars with just a scoop of beans left that I want to use up before I restock. Mixed-Bean Soup is the perfect option. You can use just about any bean in it, including lentils and split peas; the more variety, the more color and texture in the final soup. I often start by emptying as many jars as I can and then adding whatever beans I have in larger quantities, 1/2 cup at a time. Sometimes I even toss in leftover pearl barley.

In many ways, a soup with many types of beans resembles the bean soup mixes you can buy prebagged and tied with a pretty ribbon. But you’ll spend a lot less money if you buy the beans separately in bulk. You’ll also save money and have more control over the salt content and other additives if you started with dried instead of canned beans. And once you start cooking with dried beans, you’ll discover plenty of other uses for them, including—on this blog—pinto or kidney beans in Red Beans and Rice, black beans in veggie burgers, and chickpeas in falafel and this week’s other recipe, a Moroccan bean soup.

Learn to make Mixed-Bean Soup and Harira

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Chili Paste

Harissa is so simple to make that you never need to be without a jar. Get spicy recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.

Many of my travel memories revolve around food, and what I ate during a month in Morocco lingers years later. My diet then was as it is today (mostly vegetarian with some fish thrown in), meaning I spent most of my time in country disappointing well-intentioned Moroccan women who wanted to celebrate my presence at their table with the rare treat of meat. Once they were convinced no one was being rude, we could all enjoy their everyday, mostly meatless meals. These simple dishes let the spices shine, and I soon learned to look for my favorite flavors at market stalls while I traveled from city to desert and back. One of my favorite snacks became a bag of olives heavily coated in a chili-and-spice blend known as harissa.

I discovered harissa in Morocco, but Tunisia often claims origination rights. Regardless, this spicy North African paste is served on everything from couscous to soup to toast, for the daring. I’ve tossed it with vegetables before roasting or, instead of Chermoula, with shrimp before skewering them for the grill. Harissa resembles sambal oelek, an Indonesian chili paste, but it can be harder to find in American stores. Fortunately, it’s so simple to make that you’ll stop seeking it out in specialty markets. You can make it any time of year, using fresh peppers in season and dried or even smoked ones the rest of the year—which is also fortunate, because you’ll never want to be without a jar.

Traditionally, harissa is preserved by an olive oil “seal” that is replaced each time you dip into the paste. I still store such sealed harissa in an airtight jar in the fridge to ensure it doesn’t spoil. It will keep that way for a couple of months, so I make it regularly in small batches.

Learn to make Homemade Harissa and Moroccan Shaved and Roasted Carrots

Finding Flavor

My wintertime food cravings can be summed up in one word: flavor. Learn more at TwiceasTasty.com.
It’s been a mild winter in northwest Montana—until now. Temperatures dropped more than 40°F over the weekend into negative digits. Our annual cold snap always makes me cozy up by the fire and crave the heat and taste of summer.

This craving ties directly to the effort I put into freezing, canning, and otherwise preserving the vegetables and fruits of summer: I know my coldest winter days will feel warmer if I don’t have to rely on mealy out-of-season tomatoes and tasteless lettuce. My wintertime food cravings can be summed up in one word: flavor. Here’s how I ensure I can satisfy my cravings on the coldest days.
Read more about finding flavor

Sourdough Rye Bread

I craved tangy rye bread long before I started working with sourdough—or discovered a meatless Reuben. Get sourdough and vegetarian recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
I was on a mission to make a tangy rye bread long before I started working with sourdough. It all began when I arrived in St. Petersburg, Russia, on one of the coldest days on record. I’d just come from Norway, where I’d fallen in love with gjetost, a whey-based goat cheese that’s the color of caramel, has the richness of fudge, and melts on your tongue. Before leaving the country, I splurged on a log so large you can’t find it in the States. It was usually served with dry crispbread in Norway. Once I was settled in Russia, I discovered my favorite pairing for the cheese: Russian black bread.

The rye bread I ate in Russian bore little resemblance to what’s typically labeled “Russian rye” in America: no instant coffee, no cocoa powder, no caraway, no corn syrup. It was simply flour, water, and salt, all leavened with a sponge or starter. In other words, a sourdough bread. The problem was getting a recipe. Bread was subsidized when I was in Russia; a rye loaf cost 33p (about $1), and no one I met in the city was making it at home. The bakers where I bought my bread clearly thought I was a crazy American when I asked for the recipe: they started spouting ratios I could barely understand that seemed to start with about 50 pounds of flour.
Learn to make Sourdough Rye Bread and Gorgeous Grilled Cheese