Dried bean soups are hearty and perfect for chilly days. My grandmother often cooked dried bean soup with quince. She generally made it without meat because in shortage economy meat was a pipe dream rather than a tangible reality, it was often in short supply. Fortunately, today we don’t need to go without meat, so this recipe calls for smoked pork.
Smoked pork makes the soup piquant by providing a unique mixture of flavours. However, you can leave it out if you follow a vegetarian diet. The combination of creamy beans and sourish quinces even without meat is delicious and so substantial that it will keep you well fed all day long.
Despite what many recipes say, I always cook meat and dried beans separately. I tried to cook them together, but it was a big failure, since meat and beans didn’t become tender at the same time. The type of dried beans may be kidney beans, navy beans, lima beans or any kind you can obtain. I commonly use pinto beans, which are creamy and taste earthy and nutty.
- 200 g (~7 oz) boneless smoked pork
- 200 g (~7 oz) dried beans (soaked overnight)
- 2-3 medium quinces
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 bay leaf
- 3-4 heaping tbsp sour cream
- 1 heaping tbsp flour
If smoked pork is too salty, you can soak it for 1-2 hours – it’s a possibility, not an obligation. Cut the meat into cubes and in a pot of water cook until tender. Once the pork is done, leave it in the cooking liquid and set aside.
Place dried beans in a separate pot, pour in 1,2-1,5 liters (5-6 cups) of water, add bay leaf, salt and pepper, and cook over low heat. (Use salt with caution because the pork’s salted cooking liquid will be added to the soup later.)
Meanwhile prepare the quinces. Thoroughly wash, but don’t peel them. Cut a quince in half lengthways, then cut into wedges. Remove core, then dice. Place the quince cubes in a bowl of water with lemon or vinegar to prevent browning. (Quinces need to be strained and rinsed before adding to the soup.)
Once the beans are almost done, add quinces, smoked pork, 2-3 ladles of the meat’s cooking liquid and more water if needed. Cook for a couple of minutes until quinces are soft and tender. In a small bowl mix together flour, sour cream and 100 ml (~1/2 cup) of water. Stir some hot soup in the sour cream, and pour the mixture into the soup while stirring constantly. Adjust salt and cook for further 2-3 minutes.