Four-Bean Soup

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Making a big pot of soup on a cold Sunday warms your toes and your heart and makes your home smell great. This recipe calls for canned and frozen beans, but you can use dried beans if you like: 3/4 cup each, soaked overnight, drained, and cooked in unsalted water until tender. Dried beans are more trouble than canned or frozen, but they’re sweeter and fresher. However you make this soup, you’ll be awfully glad you did. SAM

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
3 center ribs celery with tops, diced
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can tomatoes with juice
2 tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 (14-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
8 ounces frozen baby lima beans
3/4 cup dried red lentils, rinsed
4 cups chicken stock or water
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan and cream, crème fraîche, or yogurt

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, heat the oil until hazy. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, tomatoes, molasses, cumin, paprika, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, parsley, garbanzo beans, black beans, lima beans and stock or water and bring to a boil. Stir in the lentils. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Uncover and simmer for 30 minutes more until slightly thickened. Remove the bay leaves and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with Parmesan and a dollop of cream, crème fraîche, or yogurt.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.

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