New England Baked Bean Soup
Like a good New Englander, I adore baked beans. On their own with brown bread for Sunday supper, alongside a burger at a summer cookout, or spooned on top of scrambled eggs in the morning for breakfast — those sweet, molasses-infused beans always find a spot on the menu. Still, it’s fun to think of new ways to get a baked bean fix.
In the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Yankee, we feature the original Fannie Farmer Cookbook in our “Up Close” column, compiled by Deb Despres, and I knew it would be a good place to find a new way to enjoy baked beans.
Farmer was born in the Boston suburb of Medford in 1857 and graduated with promise from the Boston Cooking School in 1889 at the age of 32. She remained at the school for another 13 years, and in 1896 her cookbook classic The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book was published, eventually becoming the bestselling cookbook of of its time. Written for housewives instead of “professionals,” it aimed to provide information on basic nutrition alongside its many recipes. The book became so popular that later editions (and it’s still being published today) were simply titled The Fannie Farmer Cookbook.
This edition is from 1920, and sure it enough, it had a recipe for Baked Bean Soup. Yum!
By starting with cold baked beans, then thinning most of them out with water along before adding tomatoes, celery, onion, brown sugar and a hint of hot sauce, you’ll be on your way to baked bean soup in no time. I took some liberties with Ms. Farmer’s recipe, omitting the flour and butter, and keeping things simple with canned baked beans and tomatoes.
By pureeing the soup before adding the remaining baked beans (I used a handheld immersion blender) you remove all traces of the extra veggies, but if you want a chunkier soup you can leave it as-is.
Basically, if you love baked beans, you’re going to love this soup. I enjoyed my pot for supper with a toasty grilled cheese or buttery English muffin over the course of a few evenings — perfect for this cold New England winter weather!
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