Searching around the kitchen pantry, thinking about lunch and not finding much there, I check the refrigerator. Nothing down below, but in the freezer I find a large container of bean soup. Frozen solid but I have an appliance for that, and the big hunk of frozen bean soup looks like just the thing. It’s soup someone gave me a month or so ago that until now has been lost behind popsicles and pork chops.
Some time later, after turning the soup for a spell on its magic defrosting rack, the appliance signals that the beans are jumpin’. Soup’s on. The crunch of an onion roll is good complement, so I toast one up. I’ve eaten this same soup before and the surprising fragrance rising hot off it is familiar. By surprising I only mean that it is close to gamy, maybe something like pheasant or quail. On the other hand, I am fairly certain neither of these two birds found their way into B’s soup. Whatever it is, the fragrance stirs my appetite.
I have paper and pen at hand thinking I will jot some notes on the taste, but I am hard pushed to distinguish the flavors in this soup. In some dishes the names of ingredients come to mind, but this one defeats me. White beans, ham hocks, sausage… There my certainty ends. Whatever the remaining combination of ingredients might be is hard to say. The soup is rich and full of country flavors, very close to Louisiana cooking. The fact that B, who made this soup comes from Louisiana might have something to do with it. She cooks a lot, and it all started when she was a little girl in Baton Rouge, cooking beside her mama. But the bean soup, wherever she learned it, wherever the recipe traveled from, the bean soup is a fine gift from a good cook.
Without knowing specific ingredients my sense of description is confused. Bean soup with ham is probably a familiar taste to many, so think of B’s soup as starting from there and building to a rich stew-like thickness, chunky with ham and sausage, a hint of Louisiana air tying the flavors together. Not everyone will choose to, but I ladle the soup over a spoonful or two of steamed white rice. The onion roll too, is a tasty extra. I’m comfortable with a glass of iced coffee this time, but a glass of Wal-Mart’s Oak Leaf sauvignon blanc would be a good match with a hearty bean soup like this one.
Sorry B if I have confused your recipe through the failure of my dull tongue to interpret the seasonings. I’m usually better, but this one addled my taste buds. When you make the soup again, if there are leftovers… What do you think? Any chance you’ll be in the neighborhood?
Greatest thanks and love to the person who teaches me about food and cooking—Beverly.