There is a thin layer of snow on the tarp that covers the wood for our stove. The cats are sleeping, curled up in a shameless display of relaxation. It is definitely a good night for a hot and hearty soup.
After a fairly lengthy debate with myself regarding what soup to make, I decided upon black bean soup.
Black beans have a rich, satisfying flavor that is simply perfect on a cold evening. They are an incredible source of folate (a B vitamin), dietary fiber, tryptophan (an amino acid), protein, magnesium, thiamin (another B vitamin), and phosphorus: they are also a very good source of iron. The fiber level in black beans is high enough that it has been shown in several studies to lower cholesterol levels and maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Black beans also contain molybdenum, which has been shown to help detoxify sulfites. If you combine them with brown rice (and yes, this recipe is great served over rice), they supply you with complete protein amino acids. A study published in Food Chemistry and Toxicology concluded that regular consumption of black beans results in “a clear reduction in pre-cancerous cells.” Regular consumption of legumes such as black beans has also been correlated with a significant (up to 82%) reduction in the risk of heart disease. And, as if that wasn’t enough, black beans have been proven to contain 10 times the number of antioxidants in a comparable amount of oranges. Pretty nifty, eh?
(I now have visions in my head of all the healthy, not-taking-any-shit, 90+ year-old trannies that will be running around the world in the years to come, changing the world for the better, thanks to recipes like this one!)
And yet… you may be aware that beans are well-known for making a certain bodily orifice considerably more vocal and, ummmmm, fragrant. However, there is an easy way to minimize the gaseous potential of these nutritionally heroic legumes. When you cook them yourself (as you will do when you follow this recipe) instead of using canned beans, you will notice that a white foam collects on the surface of the soup. Whenever you notice a good amount of this foam, simply skim it off and discard it. It’s just that simple: now you can enjoy all of the nutritional benefits while minimizing the odorous aftermath. Huzzah!
To soak the beans, either cover them in warm water and allow them to soak overnight, or else add them to boiling water, remove from heat, and allow to sit for 1-2 hours. Either way, make sure you use enough water to cover the beans with about 3 inches of water above the surface of the beans. In addition to shortening their cooking time, this will also help reduce the amount of gas that the beans will produce.
One more thing about the beans: do not– I repeat, do not— add the salt or the lime zest and juice until after the beans are fully cooked. If you add salt or acid to the broth before the beans are cooked, they will take longer to cook and the beans themselves will be tougher. One more time: the beans will never soften properly if you add salt or acid to the broth before they are fully cooked. Got it? Good.
Regarding the lime that is used in the soup (as opposed to the one that is used for garnish): zest it before you juice it. It’s just easier that way.
This recipe also uses roasted garlic and a roasted bell pepper. For a refresher on how to roast these two ingredients, please refer to my earlier post “Spinach, Mushroom, Kalamata and Roasted Pepper White Pizza,” http://transgustatory.blogspot.com/2010/10/spinach-mushroom-kalamata-and-roasted.html.
And that’s all I have to say about that. Here’s the recipe:
Vegan Black Bean Soup
- 1 pound dried black beans, soaked
- 2 T vegetable oil
- 1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
- 2 Anaheim chilies, diced
- 2 Serrano chilies, minced
- 4 carrots, peeled and sliced at least 1/4″ thick
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 roasted red bell pepper, chopped coarsely
- 4 quarts (1 gallon) vegetable stock
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 t dried thyme
- 1/2-1 t freshly ground pepper
- 1 heaping t cumin
- 1 heaping t ground coriander
- 1 t dried oregano
- zest of one lime
- juice of one lime (the same lime)
- 1 head roasted garlic
- salt and pepper to taste
- lime wedges (for serving)
- fresh cilantro, chopped (for serving)
- sour cream (or vegan substitute), optional
|Skim this foam off of your soup, or you’ll be sorry!|
- While the beans are soaking, saute the onion until soft and translucent. Add the chilies and the carrots and saute 3-5 minutes longer, until the chilies are softened and the carrots are bright orange. Add the garlic and saute 2-3 minutes longer, until fragrant. Stir in the bell pepper and remove from heat.
- Combine the beans and stock in a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and add the onion/chili/carrot mixture. Stir in the cumin, coriander, and oregano.
- Simmer the soup, uncovered, approximately 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours, skimming the surface as necessary and discarding the foam (see above). The beans should be very soft, just beginning to fall apart. Add additional water if necessary.
- Puree about half of the soup with the lime zest, lime juice, and roasted garlic cloves, then stir back into the remaining soup: make sure that there are no bay leaves in the soup that you are pureeing!! Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve in bowls and garnish with lime wedges, cilantro, and sour cream (optional).