Week 75. Burundi. Burundian Bean Soup.


“What would you like to order sir?”

“Oh, yes, I would like the Flatulence Soup please”

I will get to that in a bit…..

I complained to myself at the beginning of this week that we were running far too low on funds. The economy has bitten hard, my mortgage has gone up, and my wife was on Maternity leave – only getting statutory pay. We have paint peeling off one of the walls in the kitchen and we would really love to replace our plastic windows with wooden sash windows. I would ideally like have sushi for lunch most days, but the funds looked like this week I would have to hold back. And I was annoyed.

It’s materialistic bullshit.

Every now and again I need to remind myself how lucky we are. We live in one of the most expensive boroughs in London. We have a two double bedroomed Victorian house and we own a car. We can afford to have lunch out (occasionally) and we buy new clothes a few times a year. We are privileged. Wooden Sash windows……get real.

I drew Burundi this week and this was what really hit everything home. One of the bottom five poorest countries in the world, Burundi is densely populated, ravaged by warfare and corruption. Education is limited and HIV is rife. It is reported that 80% of the population live in poverty.

We, in general, in the Westernised world have it good. We try and cause reason to be stressed. Perhaps life is too simple and we need to complicate it. Perhaps, given our relative ease, stressing on whether our Jeans look good or which Hair Conditioner to buy – perhaps that’s ok. Sometimes it doesn’t feel so.

Note – I do realise the previous paragraph sounds a lot like that annoying woman in “Sex and The City” talking to her computer.

Given the poverty in Burundi, it’s no surprise that this dish is vegetarian. It’s a delicious and simple bean soup (hence the flatulence). It’s pretty much just water, available veg and a load of beans. Ideally it would be Lima Beans, Kidney Beans and White (not sure which) Beans, so I went with a combination of about seven different beans I could find in the supermarket.

Making the dish was simple. It’s about fifteen minutes work, but with life tough perhaps that’s all the time most people in Burundi have. For us materialistic westerners, it’s a lovely Sunday lunch before a walk and settling down to read the papers and watch Countryfile. It’s the same world, but the contrasts are stark.

Recipe (from CD Kitchen)


1 bag (14-ounce size) dried lima beans
1 bag (14-ounce size) dried white beans
1 bag (14-ounce size) dried pink or red beans
32 ounces vegetable or chicken stock
32 ounces water
4 cups chopped onions
12 stalks celery chopped
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
6 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter


Soak beans overnight, drain, and add stock and water. If you don’t have time to soak them, you can boil the beans for 2 minutes in stock and water, remove from the heat and let them sit for an hour. If the beans soak up all the liquid, add boiling water until all covered.

Meanwhile, in an 8-quart Dutch oven, saute onions, celery and green pepper until softened, about 10 minutes.

Add the vegetable mixture to the beans. Add chili pepper flakes, parsley, salt.

Cook until beans are tender, about 90 minutes. For creamier soup mash some of the beans against side of pot when they soften.

When soup is almost done, add peanut butter and cook 15 minutes more.


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