The first Christmas that we were married I found a French Market Bean Soup recipe in Southern Living Magazine. My husband and I went to the grocery store and purchased 20 pounds of dried beans. We mixed the beans, bagged them in ziplock bags, reproduced the recipe and gave them to coworkers and friends for Christmas gifts. That was 21 years ago. Over the years Marion, my husband, has revised the recipe, we've added lots of beans to the mix. This year we mixed the beans in one of our rolling ice chests. Seems there were over 50 pounds of beans. We all have our roles in the production line. Marion buys the beans. Michael, our son and I take them out of the plastic bags. Michael mixes them in the ice chest. I purchase Christmas stationary and make copies of the revised recipe. Michael and Marion bag the mix. Over the years we've also begun making a Cajun Spice to use with the recipe. It's one Marion revised from one of Emeril Lagase's cookbooks. The real secret with the spice mix is to purchase fresh spices from one of the international markets. While I can't send the bean mix to you my blogging friends, I can give you the recipe. It works with any mixture of dried beans, about 2 cups worth. I especially love the colors of the cranberry, pinto, black, and red beans.
CAJUN BEAN MIX
1 bag Bean Mix (2 cups of dried beans)
1 pound sausage (sliced) or ham (cubed)
1 onion chopped
½ bell pepper chopped
2 stalks celery chopped
3 cloves garlic crushed
1 can Rotel tomatoes (in the canned vegetable section)
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning, such as Tony’s Chachere’s Cajun Seasoning
Hot sauce to taste
Green onions and/or parsley
Wash beans thoroughly. Place beans in large Dutch oven and cover with water 2 inches above beans. Soak overnight. Drain beans and set aside in a bowl. Sauté sausage or ham until brown, add onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic in olive oil over medium heat for 10 minutes in the Dutch oven. Add beans, tomatoes and seasoning and cover with fresh water (2 inches above beans). Cook on low to medium-low heat for 1-2 hours or until beans are tender. Serve over rice. Garnish with green onions and/or parsley.
Note: You may add more water during the cooking and serve as a bean soup.