I've found that the easiest way to navigate around this whole weekly vegetarian thing is to make the occasional pot o' soup. For guidance, I search the internet and pull out our Moosewood Restaurant cookbook, and occasionally a few other cookbooks, but as with most recipes I end up using them for a bit of knowledge (how long to soak beans) and then wing it for the final product. At its worse, this can make for a bland recipe. (Which always gets me so down. Why should it? At least we get won't go hungry.) At its best, you get this simple, tasty soup. And, as always, play with the ingredients! Wouldn't sweet potatoes be good in this??
Black Bean Soup
- 1/2 lb. dried black beans (this is half the bag; soak overnight)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2-3 stalks of celery, diced
- 2-3 carrots, diced
- 1/4 to 1/2 green pepper, diced (use any pepper in any amount; I'm not a huge green pepper person, but this is what we had on-hand)
- one quart low-sodium vegetable stock (or homemade)
- 1-2 tbsp. each of cumin, chili powder
- 1/4 - 1/2 tsp. each salt, pepper and red pepper flakes (if you have jalapenos lying around, use one! Can't wait for summer...)
- 1 lime, zest and juice
- for garnish (optional, but greatly improves the effect): avocado slices, plain yogurt, feta cheese, additional sprinkling of salt/pepper/red pepper/lime
Combine the first seven ingredients in a pot and start a-boilin'. When it has reached a boil, turn the heat down to allow the soup to simmer for around 30-45 minutes (until the beans have softened). Once they have softened, add the salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and zest and juice of lime (if you add the salt earlier, it interferes with the cooking of the beans) and allow the flavors to come together, cooking for another 10-15 minutes (or longer, if you wish). You can eat it as-is, or use an immersion blender to make a smooth soup (we ate as-is).
This also happened to be the night that we discovered that our 10-month-old is a huge fan of avocado. I hope his adventuresome spirit continues well into the future (and not just with cuisine)!