All the women in my family make this soup and we all make it slightly different. For example my grandmother used to make this soup with a beef shank, which makes it more like a stew; My aunts Shuli and Sara add to their recipe carrots and potatoes, which give it more volume and a mild sweetness. My mother makes it without meat or vegetables and still delicious. I make it like my mother, vegan but I add two chipotle peppers (smoke-dried jalapeño that are primarily used in Mexican cuisine). It gives the soup a deep smoky, meaty flavor.
This soup is a great main course. Kids love it. When you cook it for a long time it gets thick and stewy and delicious. You can serve it with rice or good bread.
- 2 cups Navy or Great Northern beans, soaked overnight
- 2 cups tomato juice or 1 large can crushed tomatoes
- 8 cups water
- 1 dry bay leaf
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme or handful parsley
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon hot paprika or chili powder
- 1 or 2 dried chipotle peppers (optional)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Sea salt
- Put the beans in a large dutch oven or an oven-proof pot and cover them with water. Bring to a boil. Skim off the foam and lower the heat to medium.
- preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and cover. Remove the pot from the stove and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 hours or until the beans are tender. Remove the thyme sprigs. Serve with Basmati rice or a piece of good bread.