Introduction: Lobio With Tomatoes

Lobio is a very general Georgian term that basically means beans.  In this case, it refers to a thick bean soup that is characteristically rich with herbs and onions.

While the ingredients list for this recipe is short, the soup is bursting with flavor thanks to the copious amounts of herbs and sweet sauteed onions.  If you choose to use canned beans, the dish can easily go from prep to table in about 30 minutes, making it a great choice for a healthy weeknight supper.

Step 1:

Ingredients:
3 16 oz cans pinto beans (or 1 lb dry pinto beans, prepared according to package directions)
4 medium yellow onions, halved and sliced thin
1 lb (500 g) meaty tomatoes
4 tbsp (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
parsley
cilantro
dill
basil
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste

The first step is to heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot.  Add the onions all together once the oil is ready (shimmery and fragrant, but not smoking).  Stirring occasionally, cook over medium heat until they are tender, about 10 minutes.

While waiting on the onions to cook, pour boiling water over the tomatoes and let them sit in the hot water for a few minutes.  This will loosen the skins, making them that much easier to peel.  Remove the peels and the seeds and roughly chop/smash them before adding them to the onions.  If you are pressed for time, a can of crushed tomatoes should be fine as an alternative.

Step 2:

Stir the tomatoes into the onions.  Next, add the undrained beans.  Stir well and cover the pot.  Let it simmer gently for about 15 minutes, allowing a bit of time for the liquid to thicken and the flavors to blend.

Meanwhile, finely chop the herbs.  I usually just put them all together in a big bunch and chop them as finely as I feel like at the moment, stems and all.  The entire herb has flavor and nutritional value, and there is no sense in wasting any part of it for a non-pretentious family meal.

(If you were wondering how much of each herb to add, I generally measure herbs in the fine Caucasian tradition, as my Ossetian mother-in-law taught me: eyeball it.  Here I used a fairly large handful each of parsley and cilantro - 1 3/4 ounces each - and a smaller handful of basil and dill - 3/4 ounces each.)

Add the herbs to the beans and check for salt and pepper.  Stir and serve.

Step 3:

The final and arguably most important step in this process: Eat!

Some good accompaniments include lavash (Armenian flatbread), mchadi (Georgian fried cornbread with feta), pickles of all sorts, olives, lemon juice, extra herbs and feta.

Enjoy!

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