Monday, September 10, 2007

Cranberry Beans get into a soup

Cranberry Beans: shelled

Going to the farmers' market is as rewarding as it is challenging. The payoffs are many - fresh local produce, interesting varieties that one would never see in a supermarket, people who are willing to give you a tip or two on how to cook something, photo opportunities, people watching, goods from local bakeries, cheese makers, fresh flowers, live music, and in general, the feeling of all being well with the world, if only temporary.

All this does require some endurance as well as flexibility, because the farmers' markets are only open for a few hours every week, often requiring one to be up early on a weekend morning to get there in time. Once there, one needs to tote everything in hand or on shoulder, as there are no shopping carts, and one needs to dig into the purse for cash for each vendor instead of a final checkout. For me, the rewards far outweigh the effort, and so I try to get there every which weekend I can manage to.

It was during one such visit a few weeks ago that I nearly squealed with joy when I saw cranberry beans. I had read about them and seen pictures of them, but had never actually found them. When I bought a bagful, the young man at the stall told me that I need to cook them in boiling water for about 15 minutes after they are shelled. 'A little olive oil and salt, and they are really good', he added.

Cranberry Beans: with pods

Shelling and Cooking

Accordingly, I put the shelled beans into a pot of water, and boiled them until tender. In the process they lost those glamorous looks and turned into a pinkish beige, and when I tried a few with a touch of salt, the taste was just OK, so I decided to give it a light tadka, and finish with some cumin and coriander powders. The result still tasted just OK, nothing special.

Cranberry Beans usal

The Soup

You might wonder why I am posting about them if I didn't like them as much then. Definitely not because of their photogenic looks, although that would makes a compelling reason to post the pictures at least. Well, it is to write about the soup I made with the broth that resulted from all that bean boiling. It was inspired by a soup called kaLaN in Marathi, which is typically made with the broth that results when beans are cooked, when making usaL for instance.

The color that the cranberry beans lost was gained by the water, and it turned to a blushing pink which is not so visible in the photo. To this broth I added some grated ginger, minced green chilies, salt, a pinch of sugar, and boiled it for another few minutes, then strained it and added some chopped cilantro leaves on top. The result was a delicious and light warming appetizer soup - a lot more delicious than my pictures or words could describe, and the beans were forgiven.

Cranberry Bean broth soup: kaLaN

20 comments:

Shyam said...

Strangely enough, I too tried out fresh broad beans (which I've not tried before) - just boiled and salted, they werent that good. Made into a sundal-type preparation, they tasted a lot better! Of course, your cranberry beans beatmy broad beans hands down in the good-looks department :)

musical said...

I completely agree, Farmer's markets are a great excursion :). I occassionally see these pretty looking beans in one of the Farmer's Markets here, always great. i have to try the soup recipe next time i find these.

Kelly Mahoney said...

Cilantro and cranberry is an interesting combo. I'm usually overwhelmed at farmer's markets.

Asha said...

I thought they were eggs in the forst photo!!:D

Looks wonderful, must soft and tasty too.Good one:))

Rajitha said...

lovely color on the soup..nice presentation

Tee said...

Just the other day i spotted these beans at the farmers market, but they had almost run out, so i did not buy them. The soup looks really appetizing and light. Will definitely buy these beans next time and try your recipe. i wonder how a regualr usal with goda masala taste...:)

bee said...

they are so gorgeous!!! the soup is a great idea.

evolvingtastes said...

Shammi, looks aren't everything. :=)

Musical, nice to see another fan of farmers' markets.

Kelly, I don't think these cranberry beans are related to cranberries.

Thanks Asha, Rajitha, Bee.

Tee, goda masala treatment might work. I didn't become a fan of the beans this time, but the soup I can vouch for. Perhaps you will get a better batch.

ServesYouRight said...

So purdy!! The beans looks delicious - raw and cooked!

Smita

Nags said...

awesome colors on those beans! lovely and unique recipe :)

Rachna said...

i love the way you experimented with the beans and came up with that amazing soup!!! coooool... never seen cranberry beans but will look out for them...

Cynthia said...

Cranberry beans! Never heard of it before. Would love to one day try these.

Priyanka said...

I have never tried these beans before ET...the pictures look awesome....the farmers market close to our place closed down so i have to get the groceries from the foodmarkets:(

TheCooker said...

Such beautiful photos!
How disappointing that the cooked beans lost their colour and the looks...double whammy.

evolvingtastes said...

Smita, Nags, Cynthia, thank you.

Rachna, I'd be curious to know if you find them in Botswana.

Priyanka, that is so sad. I hope it opens back again. Plus, you have such great weather there too, so they should be open year-round. It is always nice to have options.

theCooker, it was quite disappointing at first, but the soup made up for it.

ServesYouRight said...

Awfully sorry about the laziness. Updates the post and here is the recipe for Chocolate Pistachio Shortbread.
- Beat 1/2 pound (2 sticks) softened butter and 1/2 cup sugar until fluffy.
- Add 2 ounces melted bittersweet chocolate - I've added upto 4 ounces.
- Sift 1.5 cups flour and 1/2 cup cocoa over the melted chocolate / beaten butter mixture. (I used 1 cup all purpose flour and 1/2 cup amarant flour) Mix it all up nicely. Press dough into a 9x13 pan.
- Toast 1/2 cup mixed nuts. I used pistachio, cashew nuts and a couple pods green cardamom. Pulse till finely chopped or coarse. Press the chopped nut / cardamom mixture on top of the shortbread. A rolling pin makes quick work of this.
- Bake at 300 degrees F for about 40 mins. Test with a toothpick, the edges and nuts will appear lightly browned. Cut into bars and cool. Enjoy!

evolvingtastes said...

Smita, thanks a bunch for that update. Sounds deservedly decadent.

Mansi Desai said...

I never knew cranberry beans looked like that!!wow, thansk for the info! and like asha, I thought they were eggs too!!...hahhaaha...

Mishmash ! said...

Thanks for sharing the pic of cranberry beans...i had never seen them :P

Shn

evolvingtastes said...

Mansi, Shn, now you know! They come in a dried form too, if you cannot find them fresh. Welcome to my blog.

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