When our green bean plants were mass-producing this fall, I missed harvesting a significant number of them at their peak (before I learned how much I loved roasted green beans, and before I knew how much the boys would enjoy eating the frozen green beans). They slowly aged on the vines, getting fatter, tougher, and yellower; some began to dry out, their formerly green shells first turning brown, then becoming thin and brittle.
I harvested a big bowl of the completely dried pods, and ended up with about two cups worth of dry seed to use for my next planting. But I really didn’t need any more seeds to plant (I already had far more than I could use, to be honest), and I didn’t want to wait for the remaining green beans to dry out on the vines. So, I harvested all the yellow-brown pods that were in various stages in between moist green and dry brown, and shelled them. The seeds were large and firm, not yet polished and pebbly like their more mature counterparts, and they looked like any other white bean – so I decided I would use them accordingly.
I simmered the beans until they were creamy and tender, then added diced butternut squash sautéed with fresh rosemary in bacon grease, threw in a couple handfuls of chopped arugula at the end, and adjusted the flavor with red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and cayenne. The sweetness of the squash, the earthy bitterness of the greens, the creamy nuttiness of the beans – they all melded together to make a soup both satisfying and filling. And just as good as the taste was the knowledge that all those things – the beans, the squash, the arugula, and the rosemary – were grown in my own garden, that I was using the bounty of the land and not letting even the random old green beans go to waste.
(No pictures of the soup, unfortunately, because I ate it all :P)