Monday, March 11, 2013

Simple Black Bean Soup

Happy (meatless) Monday! For my second week in a row, I decided to make black bean soup, from scratch. Yup, with dried beans. Yes, this recipe does take some time but it's a great money saver. Dried beans are a fraction of the cost of buying them in a can. This soup makes a quiet a few servings as well.  You can serve a family of 6 in one seating, enjoy it all week for lunch, or do as I did and freeze the soup for when you are feeling super lazy!

I adapted the recipe from Smitten Kitchen, minus the (what I can all imagine is delicious) toasted cumin seed crema on top. Creme fraiche just isn't in the budget, Deb, sorry. I decided to top mine with avocado and cilantro. The creamy avocado is just what this soup needed.

I have to be honest here, folks. I did not follow the directions of removing two cups of the mixture to puree smooth and add it back into my soup. I used my Cuisinart smart stick hand blender instead and I think I got a little carried away. I absolutely love my hand blender for soups. Just be careful and watch how much you blend it! If it gets a little thick over time, add some vegetable stock in to thin it out. Works like a charm. Hey, it's soup people, it shouldn't be fussy. After all it is Monday and the last thing we all need on a Monday is a fussy meal.

Black Bean Soup
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from Bon Appetit
Yields 6 main course servings
Please note:
**  If it has been one of those Mondays, and you didn't remember to soak your beans overnight, then put the beans in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover by three inches. Do not cover. Bring the water to a over medium-high heat. Continue simmering for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 1 hour. Drain.
*  If you are feeling particularly lazy on this Monday, just remember you can substitute canned black beans. Just remember: 1 cup of dried beans produces 3 cups of cooked beans. Each can of beans contains 1/2 cup of beans.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped
1 medium-size green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 lb. carrots, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 16-ounce package dried black beans
4 quarts water (divided)

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Cilantro and avocado for topping (optional)
1. Soak your dried bean overnight in 2 quarts cold water. (Every website I checked said to "check over your beans and pick out any stones". Not sure what I was suppossed to find, but all my beans were beans!)
2. The next day, drain the water. Add in 2 quarts (8 cups) of fresh, cold water. Bring to a boil.
3. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots, pepper and sauté until beginning to brown, about eight minutes. Add garlic and cumin; stir one minute. Transfer mixture to your pot of beans. 
4. Cover and cook on high until beans are very tender, about 3 hours. (Bean cooking time can vary, so keep an eye. I just kept coming back and giving it a stir and a tasted now and then.)
5. Transfer two cups bean mixture to blender; puree until smooth (or use your hand blender, if you are feeling lazy like me). Return puree to remaining soup in slow cooker. Stir in lime juice, salt, and pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste.. Ladle soup into bowls. Top with avocado and cilantro if you would like. (I have also had it topped with sour cream, which is a perfect garnish as well!)
Do ahead: This soup keeps great in the fridge, and even thickens a bit.  Also freezes well!

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