This is another example of a dish where we take a rare heritage ingredient, prepare it simply, and let it tell its own story. Sea island purple cape beans are one of those ingredients you won’t find for sale just anywhere, and we’re fortunate to get to work with a great network of suppliers who help live the “eat it to save it” mantra. Purple cape beans are an old heirloom of the Magwood family and are native to the Stono River valley south of Charleston. At first glance they resemble small red beans but the color is so much more vivid. They are one of the most beautiful beans to look at in their raw state. Like sea island red peas, these beauties cook up with a natural smokiness that calls for smoked pork on the one hand, but on the other hand lends itself so well to simple meatless preparations. They are unusually savory in addition to their smoky characteristics.
We cook the beans very simply with some smoked onions, pimiento, and garlic, that’s just about it. For garnishes we roast round of Hungary pimientos from Green Acres on the wood grill then marinate them in Sherry vinegar. Cornbread croutons lend their own earthiness, sweetness, and crunch, and pickled baby Hopi blue corn from Spence Farm finish out the plate. It’s hearty, substantial, and kind of decadent yet somehow really really healthy. This is a great way to enjoy several rare heritage crops in one inexpensive bowl of soup.
Pairing: Red Streak cider, or a crisp Muscadet