Monday, November 17, 2008

Black Bean Vegetable Soup: Elegance for $1.50 a pot

Over the weekend with family visiting and after a huge pizza lunch, I made black bean soup for a light supper. It was a hit, even with heavy meateaters. And it has no meat. No dairy either. The soup is incredibly nutritious and has great fiber. But most important, this is simply a delicious dish. And the protein is 'complete' if you throw some cooked rice (or brown rice) in the soup bowl ahead of the soup, or have bread with it, or a chunk of cheese.

Calculating up the cost of ingredients for a whole pot of soup, I came up with about $1.50. But in fact it may be 20 or 30 cents higher, depending on where you buy the vegetables, yet certainly under $2.00. The expense is actually time, about 1 hour 20 minutes, though it's not heavy time on task. Just as long you are near the kitchen, doing other things, this is easy cooking. And if you have a food processor, the vegetable dicing task is much reduced, though hand-diced vegetables are more elegant.

The pot will provide 12 servings or so, fifteen cents a bowl. Crusty toast and a slice of sharp cheddar do very well with this. Alternatively, cook lightly salted brown rice (2 parts water to 1 part rice plus a little salt, after draining and rinsing the rice; simmer covered about 40 minutes, or cook in rice cooker until it turns off). The rice can be cooked ahead, such as while the soup is simmering, and reheated in the microwave before serving the soup. For real elegance, stir a teaspoon or so of dry sherry into each bowl of soup when serving, or drizzle with a little olive oil.

Black Bean Vegetable Soup Tim

1 pound (2-1/4 cups) dry black beans
2 large bay leaves
2 large carrots
1 medium-small onion
2 medium sticks celery
1 small or 1/2 a large red bell pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons salt plus to taste

Pick over then rinse beans. Place in large heavy pot with water to 3 inches above beans. Bring to boil, reduce heat, add bay leaves, and simmer, covered, until tender, about 1 hour. Add a little water as needed.

Meanwhile, peel carrots and onion, discard leaves from celery, remove seeds from bell pepper, and dice all of them (or using food processor, cut in chunks and pulse vegetables separately until coarsely chopped). In a large frying pan, fry vegetables in oil, stirring frequently, until softened.

When black beans are becoming tender, mash them well in their cooking water with potato masher, leaving small chunks.

Stir in the fried vegetables and black pepper. Simmer until bits of beans and vegetables are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes, adding salt toward the end. After 5 minutes more of simmering, taste soup, and add salt until just slightly salty (beans and vegetables will soak up more). Serve now, or cool, store, and reheat later, checking salt before serving.

If desired, stir a little dry sherry into each bowl, or drizzle with olive oil. A large spoonful of cooked brown rice placed in the bowl before ladling in the soup makes a full lunch or supper.


Blogger John Weirich said...

Hey Dr. Dondero. I saw your blag when I was looking at a school blog. Hope things are goin well, and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone next week.
John Weirich

7:57 PM  
Blogger Tim Dondero said...

Thanks, John. I'll see all of you next week. And you can meet your new little cousin. By the way, I heard this evening I was invited to do a every-other-week column on cooking in the Athens newspaper. Tim

7:08 PM  

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