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{Christmas} Starter: Cranberry bean soup

It’s December! I can hardly believe it is already time to start thinking Christmas! As you know, we are summer children by heart and we often tell each other that in winter we hibernate. If Julia and me got our way we would stay in bed from the moment the temperature drops to the moment we can wear shorts again. However, this does not mean we dislike winter… No way! We just dislike going outside when it’s cold... Except when it’s snowing... And we can walk around in it... And only if we don’t have to be somewhere… And if it’s during the day... And we can wear winter leggings as pants… Anyways you hopefully understand what I mean.

Christmas is a different story though! Probably helped by the fact that Christmas in our minds means eating and baking cookies, we tend to like it a lot. That is why this December we want to share a lot of Christmas inspiration with you by posting twice a week, starting today up until the 31st of December. Julia thought it is the perfect way to share our ideas for a complete Christmas dinner, and while I totally agree, for me this was a bit difficult. See, in our family we normally don’t have a regular Christmas dinner. For the past 10 years or so, we have had the opportunity to go skiing during Christmas, and we ended up with our very own tradition of eating bread and some salad (because who want to cook after a full day of skiing). However this year will be one of the years that we will not go skiing during Christmas so it is the perfect opportunity for me to dive right into side dishes and Christmas spirit!

To start our vegan Christmas dinner we are sharing a winter soup. When I was looking for ingredients to make a wintery soup that would be holiday approved, I came across these beans called cranberry beans! I mean, the name alone is already perfect! Cranberry beans are also really pretty (especially before boiling) and are sometimes called borlotti beans, although I will call them cranberry beans for the sake of this Christmas recipe. The soup itself is not that hard to make, and my biggest challenge was not eating the pistachio topping before serving. You can choose to use canned beans as well, so you can save some time.

Cranberry bean soup

serves 6

1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, sliced

100 gram cranberry beans, soaked overnight and drained (or 250 gram drained from a can)

100 gram dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained (or 200 gram drained from a can)

100 gram green lentils, rinsed (or 300 gram drained from a can)

2 liter water or veggie broth + extra water when using dried beans

200 gram cavolo nero, roughly chopped

handful fresh cilantro, chopped

juice of 1 lemon

salt and pepper to taste

topping: caramelised onions, soy yogurt and toasted pistachio nuts*

Add the onion to the pan and bake until soft. Add the garlic, beans, chickpeas and lentils. Bake for 2 minutes and add the water or broth. Bring to the boil. If you are using canned beans cook them for 5 minutes. If you are using dried beans you need to cook them for 40 minutes until almost soft, keep adding water if necessary. Add the cavolo nero and the cilantro and cook for another 10 minutes. The add the lemon juice and spices.

* To make the caramelised onions I used 4 small onions and sliced them into rings. Then I baked them in a pan on very low heat, you can add oil, vegan butter or water to prevent burning. When baking them on low heat the onions will get caramelised and do not burn. Bake them for 40 minutes until golden and soft. I added a splash of maple syrup to give them some extra sweetness and then turned of the heat so the maple wouldn’t burn. Afterwards I used the same pan to quickly toast the pistachio nuts.

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