Spring, sweet spring, where are you?
I thought I was done with winter. You know, get out the gardening supplies, put the sweaters and boots away.
But, despite Punxsutawney Phil’s “forecast,” snow is on the ground, a chill is still in the air and that whole “out like a lamb” thing belongs in the same shaming hole as that groundhog.
Not really, but what else can we do but throw the calendar out the window, grab a sweater and make soup? That’s exactly what we did this weekend, and, for a change, we made soup with dried beans.
Normally, we’re a tad too impatient to do the soaking routine, even though we know it’s better for us and cheaper, too. But, in an effort to spice things up, we decided to give it a go (we normally only manage to soak garbanzos), choosing a recipe we’d never made before that starts with dried beans so they’re a blank canvas.
And you know what? Soup made this way really did taste different than all the other soups we make with canned black beans. And by taste, I don’t mean “salt level” (I buy salt-free canned beans). The texture was different — sturdier, almost.
Now, I know this recipe looks long, but it really isn’t much of a hassle. Also of note: Make sure to include one or two of garnishes at the bottom, they really kick this soup up a notch or two.
Black Bean-Vegetable Soup (Recipe from “Veganomicon” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz)
1 pound dried black beans, rinsed, soaked for 6 to 8 hours or overnight
6 cups water
2 bay leaves
Pinch of baking soda
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium-size onions, diced finely
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced finely (we used 1 cup of a frozen mix of red, yellow and green peppers)
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 stalk celery, diced finely
1 carrot, peeled and diced finely
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
3-4 cups vegetable stock
Garnishes for serving:
Minced fresh cilantro
Prepare the beans: Drain the soaked beans, rinse again, and place the beans in a large stockpot. Pour in the 6 cups of water and add the bay leaves and baking soda. Cover and bring to a boil, boil for about 3 minutes, and then lower the heat to medium-low. Allow to simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the beans are tender and their skins are soft. Remove the bay leaves.
During the last 30 minutes of the beans’ cooking, prepare the vegetables. Preheat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Saute the garlic in the oil until the garlic begins to sizzle, stir for 30 seconds and add the onions and bell pepper. Stir and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the onions and peppers are soft, then add the jalapeño, celery and carrot. Cook for another 10 minutes, until the carrot has begun to soften, then remove from the heat.
When the beans are completely tender, stir in the sauteed vegetables and any remaining oil, plus the cumin, oregano, thyme and vegetable stock. Cover the pot, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low, partially cover the pot and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes, until the carrot and celery are tender.
Remove from the heat, allow to cool 10 minutes, add the vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Like most soups, this soup will be richer and more flavorful the next day.
Garnish each serving of soup with chopped cilantro and chopped avocado. Serve with lime wedges.