My best friend and her dyed-in-the-seersucker New Orleansian husband taught me this recipe, which I've bastardized in a few ways. It has a deep, smoky flavor and hit of spice without the usual various pork product flavorings.
If you don't have Creole seasoning lying around, consider making some and keeping it in the cupboard - it's a versatile blend. —MeghanVK
dried red kidney beans
diced green bell pepper
cloves garlic, minced
1 (or to taste) tablespoons
Creole seasoning, such as Tony Chachere's
Soak the beans overnight in four cups of water, or quick-soak them (bring to a boil for five minutes, turn off the heat, and let sit for two hours). Sadly, this is not a recipe for canned beans.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan large enough for your beans. Dump in the "holy trinity" of onion, celery and bell pepper, and the garlic and ginger. Let brown, slowly, over medium-low heat for at least twenty minutes, until limp and Snooki-level tan.
Stir in the tomato paste. Pour in the beans and their soaking liquid, bring to a simmer, and reduce heat to low. Add the bay leaves and Creole seasoning. Partially cover and cook over low heat for two hours, until the beans have taken on the frankly unappetizing appearance of a reddish-brown sludge and the vegetables have all but - or perhaps entirely - disintegrated into the beans. Mash up about half of the beans with the back of a spoon or potato masher. Taste for seasoning, and serve warm with white rice, and/or slices of toasted French bread.