Anasazi Bean and Roasted Chile Soup

“Oh, what a story this pretty burgundy bean has!  Seems a few years ago an Anasazi bean was found at Mesa Verde, Arizona, near the cliff dwellings of the ancient tribe of Anasazi Indians. (No one knows what these Indians called themselves – Anasazi is a Navajo word that means ‘ancient ones’). Although said to be close to eight hundred years old, the story goes, when planted, this bean grew.
Most scientists say this is impossible, but perhaps not. Many seeds used to have a coating that protected them from sprouting for many years, such as the locust plant seed, which waited as long as 460 years to pop up in ideal conditions. Nowadays, though, bean seeds have lost that coating, and rely on humans to plant them each year. The Anasazi bean was registered in the late 1980’s by Adobe Milling in Dove Creek, Colorado. I can’t think of another natural seed with a registered name, but Adobe Milling knew the appeal of a good romantic story when they heard one, and have done a great job popularizing this nutritious bean.
The Anasazi bean is also sold under the names of Aztec bean, cave bean, New Mexico appaloosa, and Jacob’s cattle bean. Interestingly enough, the Jacob’s cattle bean is known to have been in the Southwest in prehistoric times, but somehow it became a traditional bean of New England.
By whatever name it’s known, this widely discussed bean has a sweeter taste than most beans of its size, and it has four times fewer complex sugars of gastric distress fame. It also cooks faster than comparable beans, such as the pinto. And if that isn’t enough, it makes fabulous soup.”
  • 2 cups dried Anasazi beans, soaked* and drained
  • 1-6 inch strip kombu seaweed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 6 cups fresh water
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 3 anaheim (mild) , or poblano (hot) chilies
  • 8 whole garlic cloves, skins on
  • 1-15 ounce can diced tomatoes, plus juices
  • 1-12 ounce beer
  • 4 teaspoons pasilla or ancho chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce for garnish
  • Chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  1. Put the beans in an 8 quart Dutch oven. Add the kombu, bay leaf, celery, carrot, onion, garlic and fresh water. Cook for 1 hour and discard the kombu. Cook for 30 to 60 more minutes, or until the beans are tender.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to Broil. Roast the red bell pepper and chilies (or use jarred roasted red bells and canned mild green Ortega chilies). When done, set aside.
  3. Roast the garlic cloves in the skin: preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Put individual garlic cloves, skins on, on a baking sheet and bake for twenty to thirty minutes, or until soft. When cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skins from the garlic.
  4. Meanwhile, add the tomatoes, plus juices, beer, pasilla or ancho chile powder, cumin, thyme, coriander, salt, black pepper, and soy sauce to the soup. Cook at least 10 minutes longer.
  5. Put the peppers/chilies and roasted garlic in the work bowl of a food processor. Add the soup in batches and puree the peppers/chilies/garlic and two-thirds of the soup. Return to the pot and simmer for about 5 minutes more. Taste, and adjust seasonings, if needed. Serve hot, garnish with chopped cilantro.
*Long soak: put them in a bowl, cover them with water and soak 8 hours or overnight. Quick soak: Put in a pot, cover with water, plus a few extra inches of water, cover. Bring to a boil, turn off heat and allow to sit covered between 1 ½ to 4 hours. 
Serves 10