Green Bean Soup (Transylvanian)

Transylvanian Green Bean Soup

This Transylvania Saxon recipe was a favorite summer soup in our family. Mama had a huge vegetable garden and fresh green beans were  available all summer long. We all loved this soup because it was usually followed by a summer fruit pudding.

In old times in Transylvania, green bean soup was cooked by farm women in the morning before they went out to the fields. It finished cooking in a kind of slow cooker so it was ready when everyone came in from the fields for lunch, the main meal of the day.  The slow cooker was an early version of the crock pot; it was a wooden box, lined heavily with wood fiber and it had a lid. The pot went from boiling and precooking on the stove top into the box where it finished cooking for several hours more. Then all the farm woman had to do was finish tasting, add salt and pepper, vinegar and sour cream.

Here is my version, cooked all at once, on top of the stove. It is still one of my favorite summer soups, especially when I can pick beans in the garden just beforehand. The garnish makes it a complete meal but you can precede the soup with a green salad and follow with a peach crumble or cobbler or your favorite fruit pie.

To start the soup:
1 1/2 lbs. fresh green beans, cut into 1″ pieces (this will serve 6-8)
7 cups cold water or 7 cups chicken stock if you prefer a very rich soup
3 cloves garlic, crushed but not peeled
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into chunks
1 small bunch parsley, left whole
3-4 sprigs Summer Savory, left whole
Place the last 4 ingredients in a cheesecloth and tie securely. Bring water to a boil in a large soup pot, add the bundle and the beans and cook for 20 minutes. While the beans are cooking:

Make a roux
Fry 4 slices bacon,  until crisp. Remove bacon strips and let drain on paper towel.
To the bacon fat in the skillet add:
1 small onion, minced very fine
Stirring occasionally, cook until onion is light golden, approximately 5 minutes.
Add 3 heaping Tbsp. all purpose flour and minced parsley (approximately 1/2 cup),
Stir until smooth and light brown, approximately 3 minutes, then
Add 4-5 ladles of hot broth from the soup pot, one at a time, stirring with a whisk continuously to prevent lumps and until all liquid has been smoothly incorporated. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes.

Finishing the soup
Remove bundle from soup pot and discard. Add roux to pot slowly, stirring continuously. Bring soup back to a boil, then simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes or more until beans are done to your liking. Turn off heat.
Add 2-3 Tbsp. cider vinegar and
3/4 to 1 cup Sour Cream
1 or more Tbsp. Salt and ground black pepper, then taste and add more salt as needed.
The soup should not be watery or too thick and have a slightly tart flavor. (If too thick add water or broth but not more than 1 cup at a time.)

To serve, garnish each soup bowl with egg cake and crumbled bacon bits.
To make Egg Cake: Whisk 1 egg per person, add a splash of cold water. Melt butter in omelet pan or skillet till hot, add eggs, stir until curds form, then cover with a lid and cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes or until eggs are puffed up and set. Remove lid, slice egg cake into cubes while in the pan. (The number of eggs, the size of the pan and the amount of butter depend on the number of people you are serving).

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