What is it with the weather this week? Just when I think we’ve settled on a season, it starts snowing in the Northeast and we’re left snowless down here, but chilly. I’ve had enough of the back and forth, but I’m pretty sure those of you up north have REALLY had enough of it. I was downright cold, and I know I really shouldn’t have been. In the grand scheme of “cold”, it really wasn’t. I grew up in the Midwest. I know what cold is, and this wasn’t cold. It was brisk, though. Windy enough and chilly enough that I had cold toes all day long. (No, I wasn’t wearing flip flops!) By noon, I knew that we’d be having soup for dinner.
I’ve been on a bit of a black bean kick lately, which is a good thing. Black beans are packed with protein, fiber and other nutrients. There are worse kicks to be on. For example, just a couple of weeks ago, I was on the Cadbury Mini Egg kick. That’s a dangerous kick. There are no nutrients to be had in Mini Eggs. They are like Mommy Meth! Thank God the little eggs are only available around Easter, or I’d be in some serious trouble.
Anyway, back to the beans. I decided I wanted a hearty, black bean soup for dinner. The only problem was, I’d never made a black bean soup before! I knew what I had in mind, though…thick, hearty, but full of flavor, smoky with just enough spice. I looked through a few cookbooks and found this recipe in one of my books from Cooking Light. It sounded like it might just be exactly what I was looking for.
Since I went shopping for my soup ingredients on the same day I was making the soup, I didn’t have time to soak the dried beans overnight to soften them as recommended. Instead, I put the beans in a pot, and covered them with water. I let them come to a boil and cook for a couple of minutes before I covered the pot, removed it from the heat and let it sit on the stove top for an hour. This is the quickie way to get a jump-start on your beans and it worked out just fine.
I cooked up the bacon until it was crisp, removed the bacon from the pan and then sautéed up the veggies in little bit of bacon grease that was left. Once they were soft, I added in some minced garlic and a diced jalapeno pepper.
Once the garlic and pepper had mixed in nicely, I added my softened black beans, a large can of crushed tomatoes, some chicken broth, and the bacon. (**Note: As I was looking at the ingredients, I just noticed that I didn’t add the amount of chicken broth that was called for! Oops! I added 4 cups of chicken broth. The recipe calls for 4 CANS of chicken broth! That’s what I get for trying to cook and help with homework at the same time! The soup turned out just the way I wanted with only half of the chicken broth called for, so I’m going to write the recipe as I made it. If you want a thinner soup, feel free to add the extra broth!)
I was a little bit worried, because it didn’t look like the black bean soup I was hoping for at this point. Thankfully, good things come to those who wait. I brought the soup to a simmer, popped the lid on it and let it simmer away for an hour and a half.
Once the timer went off, I checked the beans to make sure they were cooked through (they were) and I put four cups of the soup into my blender, along with some fresh cilantro. You may recall that my husband can’t stand cilantro. The original recipe calls for the cilantro to be stirred into the soup, but I thought I might be able to sneak it past him if I blended it in with the beans. I didn’t. He called me out on it right away, but he still really enjoyed the soup! Phew!
Once I’d pureed that portion of the soup, I added it back into the pot. Along with the puree, I also added some fresh lime juice, salt, and pepper. Gone was the bright red soup I started out with! I had a huge pot of beautiful, dark, hearty, healthy black bean soup that smelled out of this world. It smelled so good, that my girls didn’t hesitate to dive into it when I put it on the table! Both of the girls enjoyed it, and some of you may be shocked to know that Avery was actually the bigger fan. She said, “Mom, this is so good. It’s the best thing ever…well, except for dessert.” It was a sideways compliment, but I’ll take it!
The soup was delicious, and it warmed me up on that windy spring day, right down to my chilly toes.
BLACK BEAN SOUP
Adapted from Cooking Light
- 1 lb. dried black beans (allow time to soak the beans, details below)
- 2 bacon slices, chopped
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3/4 cup chopped carrot
- 3/4 cup chopped celery
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- 4 cups fat-free, low sodium chicken broth (see Note** above)
- 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes, undrained
- 1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 3/4 cup reduced fat sour cream
- diced tomato and avocado for garnish, if desired
- Here are two ways to prepare the beans: 1.) Overnight Method – Sort and wash the beans. Place them in a large bowl and cover them, by two inches, with water. Cover the bowl and let it stand for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse the beans. OR 2.) Quick-Soak Method: Place the dried beans in a Dutch Oven, cover with water by two inches. Bring it to a boil on the stove, and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Cover and let stand for 1 hour. Drain.
- Cook the bacon in a large soup pot over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove the bacon bits from the pan, but leave the drippings. Add the celery, carrot, and onion to the pan and saute 10 minutes, or until tender. Add the garlic and jalapeno to the pan and saute 2 more minutes.
- Add the softened, drained beans, bacon, broth, and canned tomatoes. Stir and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, or until the beans are tender. Place 4 cups of the soup, and the cilantro, in a blender or food processor and let stand for 5 minutes. Process until smooth and return the pureed soup to the pan.
- Stir the lime juice, salt, and pepper into the soup. Ladle the soup into the bowls and garnish with sour cream, chopped tomato, and avocado.
- Makes approx. 10-12 1 cup servings (The soup tastes great the next day! Save the leftovers!)