2017-01-26 / From The Garden

Homegrown Beans for Hearty Soup

By Cynthia Gibson

The feel of winter wind is upon us, making it a perfect time to dive into a bowl of hot, hearty vegetable soup.

Legumes are the family of vegetables that go into a great bowl of soup, stews, or vegetable chili. They can be easily grown on Aquidneck Island.

The varieties of peas you can grow for a homemade pea soup are cold-crop peas, meaning they can tolerate frost. After shelled they do not wrinkle like regular green peas; since they contain more starch than regular shell peas, they stay smooth. If you want to grow a low bush variety, choose Gold Harvest. If you want a larger crop, get Blue Pod Capucijners. They are a strong climber and can be grown in cages or on a trellis.

The difference between a green bean and a drying bean is that the drying bean has a tough, hard, stringy pod. The green bean is entirely edible. Kenearly Yellow Eye and Jacob’s Cattle are two varieties of drying beans that do well in our area.

Drying beans such as Turkey Craw, Mayflower and Good Mother Stallard are just three of many types of beans that can also climb. They can grow up to six feet tall, so a teepee trellis is a perfect structure for them.

Drying beans, peas, or lentils is not complicated. First, let the pods dry on the bush or climbing plant until they are leathery. The pods will start turning beige to brown. Pick in the late fall, before it is damp and the rains precede snowy conditions. Bring the pods indoors to complete drying by placing them in wide-open cardboard boxes one layer deep only. After thoroughly dried, smash the pods and out will come shiny dried beans. Remove the chaff and place the beans in jars for storage. Keep them dry and enjoy them all winter long!

Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport.

Return to top