Remember Jack? You know, the little guy with the cow, the magic beans and the no-nonsense mom? Well, I’m thinking Jack’s mom was sorta quick to judge. I think Jack really had something going when he decided magic beans were a great deal. You see, I just happened to get a bag of magic beans for Christmas this year.
Ok, I’m wandering a bit far off into the woods here, but did you catch the name of my new favorite product: Toni’s 10-Bean Mix? Pretty magical, right? I wish I could claim responsibility for this delicious 10-Bean Soup Mix, but it’s a different Toni. And this amazing product is made and sold by the Women’s Bean Project, based in Denver, CO.
In their own words, here is what the Women’s Bean Project does:
The mission of Women’s Bean Project is to change women’s lives by providing stepping stones to self-sufficiency through social enterprise.
Founded in 1989, Women’s Bean Project is an anomaly in the business world. It is a business, one that packages and sells bean soup mixes, baking mixes and other dry food products to stores across the U.S. and online. But tucked inside this business is a human services organization designed to provide a safe and accepting work environment where impoverished women can learn the skills required for gainful employment.
I received my bag of beans for Christmas from my good friend Deb, the person who inspired my 2016 Christmas post, A Pocket Full of Dreams. Deb knows me so well and delivered the perfect gift—the excitement of seeing my name on a wonderful food product, the gift that keeps on giving to those in need, and the starter ingredients to a yummy meal that used up leftovers and need-to-go freezer rations. Wow. Deb does know me.
Toni’s 10-Bean Soup Mix is a beautiful array of lentils, green split peas, pearled barley, black beans, black eyed peas, red lentils, navy beans, red chili beans, yellow split peas and cranberry beans. The package also includes a flavor packet of dried herbs, dehydrated veggies and spices, with no artificial anything. The women who work at the Bean Project help you make the most of your bean mix by providing an easy-to-prepare soup recipe, requiring just a couple extra ingredients from you. For me, the mix of beans and seasoning was blank page just beckoning me to get creative. And I did! Here’s the Green Gal take on this Women’s Bean Project best-seller. But I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface of possibility, so maybe you can buy some and dig a little deeper?
- One package Toni’s 10-Bean Mix and Spice Packet (retails for $5.95 on the Women’s Bean Project website)
- Four cups vegetable stock or chicken stock
- Two to three tablespoons olive oil
- Two to three cloves garlic, chopped
- One large yellow onion, chopped
- Two large carrots, chopped
- Three to four large stalks of celery, chopped
- One small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
- One-quarter cup to one-third cup dry white wine or sherry
- Two to three cups baby spinach leaves
- One-half cup fresh parsley, minced
- The juice of one small lemon
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Soft-cooked eggs, solid whites with runny yolks (optional topping, one per serving)
- Separate the beans from the spice packet. Wash and drain the beans; then soak them overnight in about 10 cups of cold water.
- Next day, drain the beans and combine with preferred stock, the spice packet and some salt to taste, depending on how salty your stock is. Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer uncovered about two hours or until you feel the beans have begun to get tender. Add additional stock or water as necessary to keep the beans covered.
- While the beans cook, heat your olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat and sauté your squash, garlic, onions, carrots and celery with a nice dash of salt, about 20-25 minutes, until they begin to tenderize and glisten. Splash on the white wine and cook until you feel the alcohol has burned away and the vegetables have brightened, maybe 10 minutes. Add everything in the skillet to your beans and continue cooking for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- When the soup is nearly done, add the spinach leaves and stir. Allow the spinach to cook down, about 15 minutes more. Taste test and add sea salt and black pepper, as needed.
- Remove from heat and add the lemon juice and parsley. Top with a soft-cooked egg, if desired.
Note that the prep time does not include soaking your beans overnight. This soup fed the two of us for several meals, and it only got better over time. It was during the second meal that I hit upon the idea to serve it with a soft-cooked egg on top. OMG. The rich, silky egg yolk ran through this savory soup, creating a elevated dish that I’d serve to company any day. To soft cook the eggs, I lowered them carefully into boiling water, using my steamer basket. I partially covered the pot with a lid and let the eggs cook for about six minutes, which yielded a semi-runny center with a completely cooked white. Timing will depend on the size of egg. Mine were large eggs.
To date, Women’s Bean Project is sold in more than 1,000 retail and grocery locations nationwide, including King Soopers and Safeway (Colorado locations), Ten Thousand Villages, Womensbeanproject.com and many other big-name online retailers. They offer numerous products from soup mixes and baking mixes to handmade jewelry. During their 25 years as a leading social enterprise, they have helped hundreds of women regain their lives, learn critical skills, become employed and start a bright future for themselves and their families. So you see, the Women’s Bean Project helps us all with the work they do for the women they directly serve.
So maybe a bowl of soup can save the world, eh? If you are still skeptical, please view this TedTalk by Women’s Bean Project CEO Tamra Ryan. Then, please, consider buying a bag of beans, and, with that purchase, spread hope and prosperity that will eventually touch everyone. Not to mention make yourself one heck of a great bowl of soup!