When I started my blog I asked some friends for their own soup recipe – either their absolute favourite or one that means something to them. Emilia from Food Notes (@FoodNotesGla) instantly came up trumps with this recipe for Bean Soup, a traditional Bulgarian soup served on Christmas Eve. Emilia explains more about this Bulgarian tradition here.
Although this is served at Christmas, there is no need to wait until then before trying it for yourself. It’s a hearty soup that will heat you up on any cold day. The ingredients are all ones we’re familiar with in Scottish cooking but this combination gives a slightly different twist. Although it looks like a variation on Scotch Broth, it really is a different flavour.
The recipe below is taken directly from Emilia’s blog. Any notes of my own are in brackets.
Serves 10 (It will definitely serve 10 as one course of a feast but If you’re using it for lunches or dinner, I’d say it would serve 5-6).
Time About an hour, plus overnight soaking
Suitable for Vegetarian diet, Vegan diet, Gluten-free diet
• 1 cup white beans – soaked overnight (I used Cannellini)
• 1 carrot, finely chopped
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 1 red pepper, finely chopped
• 1 tsp dried mint
• 1 tsp sweet paprika
• 1/2 tsp dried thyme
• 4 tbsp sunflower oil
1. Soak the beans in cold water the night before. When ready to cook, drain the beans wash and put in a large pan filled with water. When the water boils, drain the beans and repeat. This will ensure that the beans are easier to cook.
2. When you have boiled the beans twice, you are ready to start making the soup. Add the beans and a 1.5 litres of water to a large pan. When the beans boil, remove the white foam with a spoon and let the beans boil on low heat. It’s very important that you DO NOT add any salt until the very end of the cooking process.
3. Cook the beans for about an hour until they have softened.* Add the chopped vegetables, dried herbs, spices, oil and salt to taste. Leave to cook for another 10 minutes or so and then remove from the heat.
Serve with a good chuck of bread.
*Scottish soup makers – don’t panic at this stage. I know adding all the flavour and oil at the last minute seems really strange to us, but it does work!
Now the controversial bit!!!!
When I was preparing the beans, I checked with Emilia to make sure I wasn’t going to blend it at the end. I received a very definite NO in reply. Now, anyone who knows me will know that I am a fidget and poke about with things when I don’t really need to. That ‘no’ seemed like a challenge! So, although I know it’s definitely not the Bulgarian thing to do, I went ahead and blended one portion anyway. Forgive me Emilia! It was equally tasty and the texture worked out well.
4 thoughts on “Emilia’s Bulgarian Bean Soup”
Reblogged this on Food Notes and commented:
My friend Val tried out making my Bulgarian Bean Soup which I did for Christmas Eve. Check out how she got on with it in her post!
Thanks for trying it out and featuring on your blog, Val! I really enjoyed reading it and it was nice to see someone else experimenting with Bulgarian food! I hope you enjoyed making it and also trying out a nice variation of it too!
Bulgarian bean soup is served year-round absolutely everywhere in the country and is always – but always – found in the tiniest, most out of the way, least expected, most rinky dink “restaurants” at the tops of mountain hikes and village cafes. Nope, they never blend the soup and actually (at least in my experience) don’t drain the water after the boil. Draining the water makes for a far thinner soup and is maybe why you were tempted to blend a portion. If you keep the water at a brisk boil until the beans are soft, the consistency will be not only a bit thicker but have that nice almost meaty mouth feel the Japanese refer to as umami. And adding the dried spearmint (in Bulgarian джоджен, pronounced “joe-jen”) is a definite requirement.
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Thanks for the feedback and tips. I really appreciate it. I have to confess that blending the soup was more about temptation than anything else. I asked Emilia if it should be blended and received a definite NO! I’m the sort of person who just has to press a button, especially if says ‘do not touch’ so telling me not to blend brought out the rebel in me 😀
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