Bartje was the main character in two books written by the author Anne de Vries, during the mid nineteen thirties. Bartje is a young boy who lives in a rural village in the province of Drenthe, in Holland's north-east. Brown beans were standard fare for the poor and during one episode, he refuses to say grace, as he's sick and tired of eating them. Needless to say, this earns him some spanking!
You will not encounter such rebellious behavior at the table when you serve this brown bean soup. If you're not able to find any, this soup will also work well with pinto or pink beans.
2 cups of beans, dry
1 medium size onion, peeled
3 cloves, whole
1 leek, sliced
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup of diced celeriac root
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 handful of celery leaves, chopped
2 tomatoes, diced
4 slices of bacon, diced
1 Kielbasa or 10 smokies
Wash, rinse and soak the beans the night before in sufficient water. The next day, drain, rinse and add to a cooking pot with enough water to cover the beans. Poke the cloves in the whole peeled onion, take the bay leaf and the thyme and add these items to the pot. Cover and bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook the beans until done. This may take up to an hour or two, depending on the age of the beans.
When the beans are done, dispose of the onion, cloves, bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Take out two cups of cooked beans. Purée the rest of the beans. You may have to add some water or stock if the soup is too thick at this point. Add the remaining fresh vegetables and the bacon to the soup, and simmer for another twenty minutes. Add the kielbasa or the smokies after that until they're hot, and stir in the two cups of beans you've set aside earlier. If you're using kielbasa, remove it after ten minutes, slice it in thick chunks, then return the meat to the soup.
Taste, adjust with pepper and salt if needed, and serve hot with thick slices of whole wheat buttered bread.