Now that the weather is getting cooler, soups are back on my menu. This week I am featuring my Cranberry Bean Soup. When I mentioned to my husband that I was making Cranberry Bean Soup, he was very confused. He thought I was using fresh cranberries and thought that would make a very odd soup. After I told him that cranberry beans are beans, not fruit, he was very happy to eat this soup for dinner.
Cranberry beans are one of the most underutilized beans in the U. S. They are very popular in Italian cuisine for their mild, creamy and nutty flavor. There, they are called borlotti beans and are found in many soups, casseroles and salads.
Cranberry beans look like red kidney beans except they are white with dark red spots when dried and turn dark pink when boiled. Cranberry beans are highly nutritious, rich in fiber and packed with protein.
Cranberry beans should be soaked to reduce the cooking time. I simply put them in a bowl of water and let them soak overnight.
To make this vegetarian soup, the onions are cooked in oil that is seasoned with a bay leaf. Garlic, tomato, fresh green chile and dried spices are added next to build the flavor base. The beans and broth are added next and simmer until the beans are tender. This takes about an hour or more.
The next step is to purée the soup so it is creamy. The soup can be purée in a blender or using a handheld immersion blender. A traditional blender yields a creamier texture but the immersion blender is less work and requires less clean up. Before blending the soup, I remove some of the beans to add back later for variety in texture. This is an optional step. Just before serving, I add some freshly chopped cilantro.
Cranberry Bean Soup makes a fantastic main dish for lunch or dinner on a cold day along with a few pappads or a hot, fresh paratha. It is also a great starter for any meal.
For another recipe that features cranberry beans, check out Cranberry Bean Masala.