Every Bean Soup

When cruising in faraway places, it's sometimes hard to weigh anchor. For these two sailors, this one-pot "time to leave" soup takes the edge off a bittersweet departure. From "People and Food" in our October 2008 issue

Every Bean Soup 368

Lynda Morris Childress

Whenever we're ready to sail to someplace new, my husband, Dave, and I quip, "It's time to leave. We've figured out the buses." We say it even if there isn't a bus around for 50 miles. To us it means that while we love this place, it's now time to succumb to the lure of cruising-meeting new people and seeing new places.
It began when we sailed our Cal 34, Taking Flight, down the Pacific coast. Each time we came to a new harbor, we were excited and ready to learn the ropes of our temporary home. Where were the showers? Did we recognize any of the other boats? The first few hours in a new place are heady and something to savor. Once we have our land legs, we're ready to explore farther afield ashore.

We became experts on the Bay Area Rapid Transit in San Francisco and the Metro in Los Angeles. We love the metropolitan life, but when you stay for extra days in one place, you risk rushing through another beautiful place and missing friends you haven't met. Even deserted anchorages keep us past our departure date. In the Midriff Islands, in the Golfo de California, an anchorage at an island called Salsipuedes-it loosely means "Just try to leave"-lived up to its name. Leaving becomes even harder if we're exploring with other cruisers. Then the anchorages become extended block parties, and the radio comes alive with plans of land trips or an afternoon cribbage tournament.

We hate saying good-bye to new friends because we never know when-or if-we'll cross paths again. We've said, "See you in a few days," when we should have said, "Good-bye. We've loved knowing you." Cruising friendships are subject to the whims of boats, weather, and other interruptions never seen on land.

I always dread the start of a passage. It's hard then for me to find the energy to go when we're about to leave the camaraderie of the anchorage for the loneliness of a long sail. For me, passages are the "work" part of cruising. I worry that I won't sleep when I should and that I'll sleep when I shouldn't. I worry about the weather. I worry about getting seasick. In fact, I know I'll be sick, and it'll last for three days. My only defenses are to keep drinking fluids and to spend as little time as possible cooking while under way.

To that end, before we depart, I soak some beans for that crucial first dinner, when I know for sure that I'll be under the weather. Just before I go forward to raise the anchor, I prep all the ingredients for Every-Bean Soup.
One of the greatest joys of cruising is arriving someplace new and really getting to know it-but you also need to know when to leave. For us, learning the bus routes is that signal: It's time to soak the beans!

Every Bean Soup
2 cups dried beans: 1/2 cup each
garbanzo, kidney, navy, and black
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon each of rosemary, thyme,
and chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
or water
2 chicken or vegetable bouillon cubes
1/4 cup barley
1/4 cup lentils
1 12-ounce can diced tomatoes
Sour cream (optional)
Grated cheese (optional)

Soak beans in fresh water for 6 hours; add more water to keep beans covered, if necessary. Drain. In a pressure cooker, saute onion and garlic in olive oil. Add herbs and spices. Saute for 1 minute. Add stock, bouillon, beans, barley, and lentils. Bring pot up to pressure. Cook for 17 minutes on low heat. Turn off heat and allow cooker to cool until the lid opens easily. Stir in tomatoes. Top with sour cream and cheese, if desired. Serves six.

If you don't have a pressure cooker, prepare the recipe in a soup pot and simmer for 60 to 90 minutes or until beans are tender.