Recipe adapted from a recipe by Sarah DiGregorio, NYT

Silky Jacob's Cattle beans are a contrast to the toothy bite of whole grain wheat berries in this umami filled, deeply satisfying soup. Using heirloom beans and ancient grains provides significantly more flavor and nutrition than conventional varieties you find in the stores. Don't fret if you don't have a pressure cooker. This recipe works just as well in a slow cooker or on the stove, it just takes longer. Please note that if you are adapting this for stovetop you may need to add more liquid due to evaporation.

To soak or not to soak: This is the great bean debate and there are two camps. The bean soakers claim that the slow rehydration of an overnight soak results in superior texture and taste. The non-soakers claim that it simply takes longer to cook when you start from dry rather than pre-soaked. Among us we are equally split with Deep a devout soaker and Lisa a non-soaker. This pressure cooker recipe is written for dry beans right out of the pantry.

heirloom bean and grain club


1/4 cup olive oil

1 large onion, diced

1 fennel bulb, chopped, fronds reserved

3 celery stalks, diced

4 cloves garlic, finely diced

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon Piment D'Ville 

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

1/2 cup dry white wine

7-8 cubs chicken stock

1 pound thin skinned heirloom beans (Buckeye or Jacob's Cattle are great choices)

1 cup sonora or einkorn wheat berries

8 ounces Parmesan, graged, rind reserved 

1 small bunch flat-leafed parsley


1. Add olive oil, onions and a generous dash of salt to the pot and sauté until softened. Add fennel and cook until the fennel is softened and the onion is starting to turn brown. Add celery, garlic, fennel seeds, Piment d'Ville and cook 2 minutes. Add rosemary and white wine. Bring to a simmer and reduce by half.

2. Add stock using 7 cups for a 6-quart pressure cooker or 8 cups for an 8-quart pressure cooker. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add beans, wheat berries and the rind from the Parmesan. Cover and set the steam valve to sealed position. Pressure cook on high for 45 minutes.

Note: If you are using a slow cooker or making this recipe on the stove, I recommend bringing the beans to a boil on the stove first for just a few minutes and then adding to the soup to simmer for at least 2 hours. You will likely need more liquid due to evaporation so continue to add as needed.

3. Allow steam to release naturally for 10 minutes then release remaining pressure. Taste the beans to make sure they are silky and soft. If they require more cooking simply put back on the lid and pressure cook for another 30-40 minutes. Each type of heirloom bean will have a different cooking time. Both Buckeye (Yellow Indian Woman) and Jacobs Cattle cook up quickly but other beans like the Arikara might take a bit more time. 

4. Before serving the soup discard the rosemary spring and parmesan rind. Grate fresh parmesan on top of each bowl and some sprigs of the reserved fennel fronds. This soup freezes very well and will keep for many days in the refrigerator. 

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