My daddy can cook.

He was doing farm to table way before it was a catch phrase of cooks and menu writers across the United States. Of course, farm to table meant walking out the back door of the house to the garden that was halfway down the driveway on our farm in Eastern Kentucky.

In addition to a vast garden that yielded green beans {greasy as well as shuck} sweet corn, zucchini, tomatoes, plum grannies, potatoes, cabbage, peppers, cucumbers, pumpkins, and sweet onions, there was always a field filled with tobacco-til the government buyouts of the 90s. In the kitchen this bounty {save the tobacco} was fried, stewed, sauteed and baked for immediate consumption with the rest being canned for the hard winter months. Back when I was a child, Kentucky had fierce winters-nowadays the Bluegrass State is lucky to see one snowfall per annum.

Meat came in the form of walking out to the garage, where an enormous deep freezer was filled with freshly slaughtered calves and shoat hogs. We never went hungry.

Out of this endless plenitude of food though, my favorite dish of his was also the simplest: soup beans and cornbread.

In Eastern Kentucky, soup beans are on tables nightly across the Cumberland Mountains. They are the single most life-sustaining food for the mountain people.

My soup bean recipe is complex and takes most of a day to complete. My father scoffs at such nonsense. He can knock out a batch in half the time and his pone of cornbread that goes with it is still the finest example of the form I’ve ever tasted.

Without further ado; Soup Beans from the kitchen of Russell Reeves Sr. the finest father in all of Kentucky.


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