Rabbit or Chicken Navy Bean Soup

Rabbit or Chicken Navy Bean Soup

Rabbit meat might not be your thing—although if you like chicken, you should know that good rabbit is like the best chicken white meat you’ve ever had—but this soup works well for both rabbit and chicken meat.

If you’ve roasted a chicken lately and want to do something different with it or have leftover meat in the fridge, this soup is easy, quick, and guaranteed to be filling thanks to the lovely navy beans.

I like to soak our beans as I think it cuts down on some of the bean…effect. But it’s up to you whether or not you want to do that step. Some people like their beans firmer than we do—we tend to like all our veggies and beans pretty mushy.

Whatever you do, don’t wimp out on the red pepper flakes. They add a subtle kick and a lot of depth to this rabbit or chicken navy bean soup.

Rabbit or Chicken Navy Bean Soup

Serves: 6-8

Prep Time: 30 minutes (not including bean soak time)

Cook Time: 3-4 hours

Ingredients:

  • 16oz dried navy beans
  • Enough water to submerge beans
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 5oz can diced tomatoes (with juices)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2-3 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 3 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1-1.5 pounds cooked and shredded chicken or rabbit

Directions:

  1. Soak beans for 4 hours and then rinse thoroughly. Soak for another 4 hours and rinse again.
  2. Combine beans, 4 cups broth, tomatoes, onion, celery, carrots, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, garlic, bay leaves, salt, and pepper in a stock pot.
  3. Cover and bring to a boil.
  4. Lower heat and simmer for two hours.
  5. Add additional 3 cups water, corn, red pepper flakes, and meat. Simmer for an additional one to two hours.

Integrating Chickens and Rabbits on the Homestead

In our previous “homestead,” which was really a house with a tiny yard in a suburb, we tried very hard to raise our own food—much to the entertainment of one of our neighbors and the ire of the other. In our little yard, we had both chickens and rabbits, and while we wanted to free-range both of them, it didn’t work out.

The chickens demolished all the grass (and my tulips) in about thirty seconds flat and the rabbits broke out of the backyard and escaped the property repeatedly. Eventually, we expanded our chicken run (although it was still smaller than we would have preferred) and kept the birds inside it. And…well…we ate all the rabbits.

The Port Townsend Hens.

The Port Townsend Hens.

In our new homestead, which we are calling “Blackcap” due to the plethora of chickadees everywhere here, we want it to be a more ideal life not just for ourselves, but also for our animals. So, while the chickens are in an fenced-in run at present, it is very large, and when spring comes they will probably free-range (we don’t want to risk them free-ranging in winter when predators are hungrier and braver) or at the very least we will rotate them through different paddocks allowing the grasses to regrow, the dirt to be exposed to different manure, etc.

Rabbits kept in small cages don’t seem very happy to us either. When we keep our rabbits in cages, they are very anxious and afraid of us when we come near. In a free-range scenario, they hop right up to our feet and let us touch them and literally spend their day alternating between frolicking and napping (sounds hard, right?).

Ridiculously cute rabbit is ridiculously cute.

Ridiculously cute rabbit is ridiculously cute.

Plus, keeping animals in a smaller pen inherently calls for more work. They can’t feed themselves, they make a mess that no one can escape, they don’t get exercise, and you end up having to feed and water them twice a day (automatic waterers sound great, but don’t work so well in sub-zero weather). This prohibits us from going on hunting, fishing, and trapping excursions. In other words, it all takes the fun out of things for both the rabbits and us.

As a solution to this, at present we are experimenting with integrating the rabbits and chickens in one big run. Come spring, we plan to do similarly with more rabbits, turkeys, ducks, etc. Our dream is to allow the birds to go broody on their own and sit on their chicks so we don’t have to incubate. And for the rabbits to naturally propagate and raise their kits, as well. While we do light the chickens during the winter, we don’t plan to light the rabbits as it’s just too complicated (and energetically expensive—we are off-grid, after all) in the run compared to the cages.

I did some research online about integrating rabbits and chickens before we released the rabbits, and everyone I found had great results. One rooster even adopted the rabbits into his flock and tried to herd them into the chicken coop each night. Some rabbits even slept right in the coop!

Winslow came up with the great idea of using the space under our chicken coop as the rabbit warren. He mostly blocked it off except for a small “door.” The rabbits took to it immediately. The chickens were dubious about the whole affair at first, while the rabbits remained oblivious. After a day or two, everyone settled in just fine—except for when it came to the chicken food.

Chickens and Rabbits

Dopey-Bunny is one of the “pardoned” rabbits, although we’ll see if that lasts.

Chickens and Rabbits

Okay, seriously, Dopey. That’s not cool.

Rabbits, more than any other animal we’ve raised (and we’ve raised a few at this point), love to be in the food dish. And, as it turns out, rabbits also love chicken food. And, on top of that, our chickens aren’t very assertive and so they weren’t getting any food to eat because the rabbits were hogging it all even when we threw piles of alfalfa into the run.

So my DIY homestead project this weekend was to bunny-proof the chicken food.

Chickens and Rabbits

My husband showed me how to drill holes in the metal pan and we shaped some extra fencing over the top. If there’s anything we’ve learned in our short time homesteading in the middle-of-nowhere it’s that YOU THROW NOTHING OUT. EVER.

Chickens and Rabbits

It keeps rabbits out, but lets chickens in. P.S. Chickens LOVE back oil sunflower seeds.

Chickens and Rabbits

Alice the Rooster keeps watch while Ms. Cranky and Raven eat uninterrupted. We set the dish on 4×4 wood blocks to make the food unreachable even if the rabbits could squish their faces in.

Note: The initial design was not a total deterrent. We had to also screw the dish to the 4×4 blocks as after a few hours two of the rabbits conspired together and figured out how to drag the dish six feet and flip it over. Whatever!

 

Pressure Cooker Split Pea Rabbit Soup

As much as I love cooking, one of the essential aspects of minimalizing is also minimalizing your kitchen and your food. A gourmet kitchen and a tiny home are just not all that compatible. That said, you don’t have to give up eating good food and there are simpler ways to create it. So really, in the end, it’s a win – you can still create fantastic food, but in less time and with fewer (expensive) gadgets.

As an example of this, I am sharing with you today my personal split-pea soup recipe. While for all my life I have hated, and continue to hate, peas, I for some reason love split-pea soup. In my mind, it tastes nothing like peas and there are few better things to eat on a cold, rainy day. (Unless we add a good grilled cheese sandwich and an Irish coffee to the scenario, that is.)

The Device

The technology I use to minimalize my kitchen includes an Instant Pot countertop electric pressure cooker. It’s pretty much the coolest kitchen device ever invented. It also functions as a rice cooker, slow cooker, and (in newer models than mine) yogurt maker. It’s the bomb.

Instant Pot Pressure CookerThe caveat is that the instructions are entertainment at best. Hence, it took me quite some time to figure out that the “sauté” button was a super useful thing. Maybe other people would figure that out sooner. Please, don’t judge.

My instructions are written with this device in mind, but could just as easily translate to a regular old-school pressure cooker. You could also go super old-school and do this in a pot for the afternoon on your stovetop. I simply prefer to walk away from my food sometimes. And, as an added bonus for the future, I could do this outside our RV-house and have zero worries as long as I place the device on a stable surface.

Pressure Cooker Split Pea Rabbit Soup

  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking time: 20-22 minutes for soup, varies for meat
  • Servings: ~8 bowls

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp butter (or fat of choice)
  • 150g onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 200g carrots, diced
  • 40g celery, diced
  • 400g yellow sweet potato
  • 1lb split peas (green, yellow, or a combo)
  • 5-6 cups broth (chicken or rabbit)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1.5lb rabbit meat (or your meat of choice)

pressure cooker rabbit soupDirections:

  • Put the butter/fat-of-choice in the pressure cooker and hit the sauté button
  • Once the butter is hot, add the onions and garlic. Sauté for a couple-few minutes, until translucent.
  • Add carrots, celery, and potatoes. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until starting to soften.
  • Add peas, broth, salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Stir ingredients together.
  • Turn off the sauté option.
  • Close the top of the pressure cooker and hit the “soup” button.
  • Cook for 20-22 minutes.
  • Once soup is done, release the pressure and stir the ingredients around.
  • Pull out the bay leaves while you stir.
  • Grab your immersion blender and blend until about half smooth. I like to leave some chunks for texture and aesthetic appeal. The veggies will all be soft enough that you could achieve close to the same effect by mashing around a bunch in the pot with a big, sturdy spoon.
  • Mix in the rabbit meat (or meat of your choice)
  • Serve!

Note: I use my own homemade rabbit broth for this, but you could also use homemade or store-bought chicken broth or vegetable broth.

pressure cooker split pea soup

Preparing the Rabbit Meat

Typically, I cook the rabbit right before I make this soup. The process goes like this:

  1. Pressure cook rabbit – put the rabbit(s) in whole with some poultry spice, salt, and pepper, along with a few cups of water, and cook for the time prescribed by the number of pounds you’re cooking, typically in the 20-30 minute range. I normally do two rabbits for about 24 minutes.
  2. Pull rabbit out and let it cool.
  3. Prepare ingredients for the soup and get it going in the same pressure cooker (saves a whole cleaning cycle).
  4. Dismantle rabbit and chop into bite-sized pieces.
  5. Soup is done; rabbit goes in.

With a little practice, it all times out just right. And even if it doesn’t, it’s just soup. Nothing bad will happen. On the other hand, if you hurry, you’re going to burn your hands trying to shred the rabbit while it’s still hot. Of course, you can also cook the rabbit or whatever meat you’re using the day before, or even days before, and it still works just fine.

rabbit4I wrote this recipe for rabbit (since you know, rabbits breed like rabbits), but you could easily substitute the rabbit with ham, turkey, or any sort of diced or ground lighter meat. Sometimes, instead of pressure-cooking the rabbit, I smoke it to get a smokier taste in this soup. It just depends how much time you want to dedicate to the whole process.

Variations and Options

  • Use white potatoes instead of sweet potatoes
  • Add more broth for a thinner soup. We like ours thick.
  • Used diced ham, shredded chicken, or browned ground turkey instead of rabbit
  • Add more meat or a variety of meats for a heartier soup and a higher protein count
  • Add a step at the very beginning of the directions – fry up some bacon using the sauté option, then pull the bacon out and use that fat to cook your onions and garlic in. When the soup is done, crumble the bacon in.
BBQ Rabbit Recipe

Easy & Subtle BBQ Rabbit Recipe

The joke about rabbits is no joke. If you have a couple rabbits, you have a lot of rabbits. And when you raise rabbits for meat, you start getting really creative about how to prepare it.

One of my favorite ways to prepare rabbit is a simple smoking method. You do have to pay attention and do some work. It’s not as easy as a slow cooker or a quick as a pressure cooker, but the results are well worth it.

BBQ Rabbit Recipe

Tips on Smoking Rabbit

This recipe is different from many that you will find on the Internet for BBQ rabbit in that it was designed for domesticated meat rabbits, not cottontails or hares. That is why there is no brining step in this recipe. A good homegrown meat rabbit is like the best white meat off a chicken that you’ve ever had and it doesn’t require brining. You can brine if you want, but you definitely don’t have to.

Preheat your smoker to 250 degrees. You will drop this to 200 when you put the rabbit in, but I like to get a good smoke going and really heat things up first. I recommend using either hickory or applewood, but you can experiment with different woods.

We have a combo roaster-smoker from Oster that I love. It’s simple, easy to clean, and does double-duty in our household. This is something I demand from pretty much all our appliances. I’ve even baked bread quite successfully in this thing! That said, even though it’s a “countertop” device, you absolutely do not want to smoke anything in your house.

oster smoker roaster

Subtle BBQ Rabbit Recipe

  • Preparation time: 5 minutes
  • Cooking time: 2 hours
  • Servings: ~20 4-ounce servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 rabbits (~5 pounds total)
  • 1 Tbsp chipotle pepper
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper
  • BBQ sauce of your choice

Directions:

  1. Preheat smoker to 250 degrees
  2. Mix all spices together
  3. Pat rabbit dry and coat evenly with spice mix
  4. Drop smoker temperature to 200 degrees
  5. Place rabbit in the smoker
  6. After 15 minutes, paint the rabbit with BBQ sauce
  7. Repeat every 15 minutes until meat hits 160 degrees

This will take approximately 2 hours depending on the size of your rabbit and the ambient temperatures affecting your smoker and its ability to maintain 200 degrees. I learned the hard way that a windy day can make a mess of your intentions when it comes to smoking meat. So be alert to the weather and adjust your smoker temperature accordingly.

At the half-way point, flip the rabbit over in the smoker so you’re not just slathering the BBQ sauce on one side.

I personally hate when recipes say things like “serves eight” when there’s only one pound of meat involved. So, I always calculate “servings” based off four ounces of meat. So if you start with five pounds of rabbit, you’ll get twenty servings of meat. If you’re hungry or just love the taste, you’ll have fewer than that.

rabbitcollage1

Keep It Simple to Keep It Versatile

We are a low-salt household and typically make our recipes with half of what any recipe recommends. So if you are a salt lover, you’re going to want to double what I recommended.

If you like your BBQ flavor more intense than just use one rabbit or double the spices. For me, I like to reuse the meat in a variety of ways over the subsequent days. This is why I do multiple rabbits and keep the flavors subtle. Also, smoking multiples seems more energy-conscious than running the smoker for hours for a singular rabbit.

This recipe could also be used for chicken, since good domesticated meat rabbit and chicken are pretty interchangeable, and, honestly, quite indistinguishable. You could feed this recipe to just about anybody and they’d swear it was chicken.

IMG_0069

Special Note: If you’re like me, you will never ever remember to not have your face an inch from the smoker when you open the lid. For your own sake, do your best to stand back and not be downwind. Unless you want to go blind and burn your lungs, which is pretty much what I do. Every. Single. Time.