Monday, February 13, 2012

Vegan Black Bean Soup

Black beans are so yummy. They're inexpensive. They're shelf-stable. They're a great addition to food storage. And making them from their dried state, though it takes a little forethought and planning, is way better than using canned beans and is way easy. This soup is spicy, and yummy, and can be used to get more protein and fiber into your family's diet without adding fat or processed ingredients.

The pre-planning part of this recipe requires an overnight soak of the black beans. Before you go to bed, put about 1/2 to 1 cup of dried black beans with 6 cups of COLD water in a tupperware container with a lid. Place in the fridge and let them do their thing. In the morning, dump the beans in a colander and rinse them. You can't use this liquid for cooking because it is full of dissolved starches from the bean that cause "intestinal discomfort" - code for gas pain - and will make the beans basically inedible.

Cook the beans in 6 cups fresh water in a heavy pot for 60 to 90 minutes. Don't boil the beans, but rather bring the water up to JUST a boil, then turn down the heat so they simmer. Beans are done when you can easily smush them between your fingers.
Reserve the cooking liquid.

*the prepared black beans (or 2 to 3 cans of no-salt added black beans, drained and rinsed)
*2 to 3 cups of reserved cooking liquid
*1 large or 2 small yellow onions, diced
*2 Tbs. no-sodium tomato paste
*1/2 package McCormick's 30% Less Sodium Taco Seasoning
homemade taco seasoning mix: 1 Tbs. each chili powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder; 1 Tsp. each paprika, ground oregano, fine sea salt; 1 dash (and I mean a dash) of cayenne pepper
*3 cups low or no-sodium vegetable broth (or 5 cups if you started with canned beans)
*1 Tbs. olive oil
*Kosher or sea salt

Special Equipment: Immersion Stick-Blender or Regular Blender

1) Heat the oil in a stock or soup pot. Gently sautee the onions with a pinch of salt until they are soft and begin to take on a light caramel type color.

2) Add the beans, the reserved cooking liquid, the vegetable broth, and either the homemade or packaged seasoning (remember to only use 1/2 the package, because the spice is strong). Let the liquid come almost to a boil.

3) Stir in the tomato paste; let cook for about 10 minutes.

4) Remove from heat. Allow to cool a bit then CAREFULLY use the immersion blender to blend the soup to a nice smooth consistency. Alternatively, you can carefully transfer the soup in batches to a blender and blend til smooth. Add salt as needed.

5) Un-vegan this soup with yummy toppings: Sour cream and cheddar cheese and chopped onions. Or use the vegan options. Serve either as the main dish, or as a starter.

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