Saturday, January 2, 2010

black bean soup and a lesson learned

I am unlucky with three things in life: electronics (always broken within a month), soups, and my health. These are listed in descending order of importance. Maybe I would have better health if I had more luck with soups.

I suspect that soups are not meant to be made from recipes. That they should be reserved for that special, seemingly innate, intuition of "moms" (emphasis on quotes). In the end, my black bean soup was an unequivocal failure. What I did end up with was a good lesson and a large pot of puffy, garlic-rich black beans. I look forward to making them into other things.

Below is the recipe reproduced in full, my annotations in italics. To make a good soup, try following the italicized version. To get hearty and delicious black beans, follow the regular version -- but leave out the eggs/tortilla and change the simmering time to 1.5 hours.

This is the choose your own adventure of recipes. Tell me how your adventure ends.

Grandpa's Favorite Black Bean Soup

You Will Need:

8 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped (2 medium bell peppers, 1 large carrot, 1 green zucchini -- double the amount of vegetables)
1-2 tbsp olive oil
6 cups of chicken broth (vegetable is a fine substitute)
2 15 oz cans of black beans (1 bag of dry beans will suffice -- boil them for 2 minutes in water and let soak for an hour. They will cook the rest of the way down while the soup simmers)
fresh thyme, to taste
fresh oregano, to taste
4 eggs
corn tortillas
sour cream
fresh cilantro

To Make:

1. In big soup pot, grill garlic, onion and bell pepper in oil and stir. Grill until vegetables soften, onion becomes translucent. Done best over medium high heat.

2. Add chicken broth, black beans, fresh thyme and oregano to pot. Stir ingredients.

3. Bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover pot and simmer soup for at least half an hour. This will allow the herbs to fully flavor the soup.

4. Crack eggs on edge of pot and drop into soup in different areas of pot. Do not stir! The eggs will cook in place in 2-3 minutes.

5. Remove soup from heat.

6. To best enjoy the soup, place a hard boiled egg in each bowl and fill with black bean soup.

7. Tear corn tortillas in strips and sprinkle over bowl. Add a dollop of sour cream and a generous pinch of freshly chopped cilantro.

This recipe came care of the first print issue of Remedy Quarterly, which I received in the mail (appropriately enough) on my birthday. It is a beautifully curated collection of recipes and stories about food; I highly, highly recommend grabbing a copy while you still can. The ginger cookie recipe alone is worth it.


Suzy said...

haha it is one measly degree in wisconsin today, but apparently it feels like negative fifteen- what fun!

i either have really good luck with soups or just don't have the highest of soup standards, as i've been happy with almost every soup that i've made this winter thus far.

hummus, on the other hand... is actually the reason i stopped by this blog just now. mine sucks, damnit, and i'm trying yours the second i gag down the rest of this cilantro-infused sludge. *gulp*

sweeetheartfever said...

oh, Suzy! your 1 degree misery puts my 4 to shame.

PLEASE -- leave me/send me soup recipes! i would love to try to make one with a bit more success, haha.

and i hope the hummus goes well! try BAKING the red peppers instead of sauteing, ive been doing that lately with excellent results.

Raeann said...


You don't mention why your soup was a failure, but I did want to add that I've been making my own stocks as of late, and saving them frozen in ziplock gallon freezer bags. My soups have been more savory and less salty than when I used broth or bullion.

I enjoy the blog. Wish I was organized/ dedicated/ camera functional enough, to keep a record of my own cooking adventures.


thousandflower said...

My experience with bean soup or chili is that it works best if you cook the beans until they are soft and THEN add the other ingredients. Particularly anything salty or acid will make the skins of the beans hard if put in too early.

sweeetheartfever said...

totally agree with you! my problem was that i allowed myself to be distracted while the beans were simmering -- and all the water had boiled out by the time i returned to the pan.


sweeetheartfever said...

Great idea, Raeann! I'm going to do this tonight. I refuse to give up on soups!!! I swear I'll make a good one...

thousandflower said...

If you run out of water and they haven't started to scorch you can just add more water and carry on.

Suzy said...

ok i miss my computer so much right now. all those lost bookmarks, garr!!

here are two i've remembered:

carrot soups are just hot purees. delicious ones, though. when i get sick of this recipe (in which you should sooo use the advised coconut milk), i add onions carmelized with maple and ginger to stock-boiled carrots, put it all in the blender and scarf with toasted pita. i make it so thick it's like a dip, basically.

you've probably seen this one but it is such a good starting point. mainly because of the kale, i have to admit. the easiest thing ever, and i literally squeal for joy when i have any kind of squash on hand to mix in. i never got a chance to do the suggested saffron yogurt before i went veegs, but i imagine it's pretty damn tasty.

damnit, and there was a really good one in a recent issue of martha stewart with black kale, white beans and barley, and, whoa, come to think of it there was an amazing white bean tomato stew thing in that issue as well. i'll try to find it to scan but in the meantime YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO MAKE FUN OF ME FOR READING MARTHA STEWART LIVING!!!

that's all i got tonight, take care cassie! <3<3<3