This time of year I often find myself craving the warmth and comfort that comes from a thick, hearty soup; so when I saw the bag of Bob's Red Mill Orca beans I knew right away what I was going to make.
The unique black and white hued Orca beans are a small, tasty, heirloom variety bean high in both fiber and iron. These beautiful beans retain their shape & color well when cooked and taste wonderfully in everything from soups, salads and stews.
It's impossible for me to describe just how good these beans are. I added them to a hearty Tuscan style soup with farro, which was flavored with pancetta. The creaminess of the beans and the saltiness of the pancetta blended perfectly. The soup is easy to make and elegant to eat. Serve it as a 1st course, or light lunch.
Hearty Orca Bean Soup
1 1/4 cup dried orca beans
3/4 cup farro, quick cook
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 oz pancetta, cut into small dice
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
4 leaves fresh sage, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Soak the beans in cold water for 8 hours or longer. Drain and discard the soaking water. Rinse under cold water and drain again.
In a 6-quart soup pot, combine the olive oil and pancetta and place over medium low heat. Cook, stirring, about 10 minutes, until the pancetta begins to brown. Stir in the carrot, celery, and garlic and continue cooking, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the beans, farro, 8 cups cold water, and sage and raise the heat to medium high. When the water begins to boil, lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour, until the beans and farro are tender and the soup is thick.
Transfer about 1 cup of the soup to a blender or food processor. Process until smooth and return to the pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste and continue cooking, about 15 minutes longer.