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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Black bean soup

Back to life, back to cooking!

For Christmas, my brother Evan gave Mike and I soup bowls and a soup cookbook.  The photography in the book is amazing (and I can attest that soup is not the most picturesque subject!).  The recipes are straightforward but still include 'chef's touches' like including flavour sachets and great tips on garnishing.  I salivated over the book throughout the holiday (literally) and finally christened it yesterday.

It took a while to select the inaugural recipe, but I finally settled on a black bean soup.  The main ingredients include onions, leeks and of course, black beans. 

black beans

This soup was my first experience with a 'sachet'.  I felt like a real chef making this thing!  The idea is to flavour the soup without overpowering it with your spices.  The little bundle simmers with the soup but is removed prior to serving.  My sachet included peppercorns, a dried cayenne pepper, a hunk of ginger root, and cumin seeds.


 tied sachet

The soup turned out very well.  I would definitely make it again, perhaps to start off a Mexican-themed meal.  Recipe is below.  I might recommend using slightly less broth if you'd like a thicker soup.  Also, do not omit the lemon juice and zest!  You might think it would go unnoticed in a huge pot of soup but it really shows up.  

black bean soup

Black Bean Soup

1 lb dried black beans
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, pressed
3 large leeks, diced
1 medium onion, diced
8 cups vegetable broth (more or less if desired)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

5-6 peppercorns
1 dried hot chili
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 inch of ginger root

2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 bunch green onions, diced
1 cup sour cream

Rinse beans.  Cover with at least three inches of water and bring to a boil; remove from heat and let stand, covered, for one hour.  Rinse with cold water and drain.

Heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add leeks, onion, and garlic and saute until translucent (approx. ten minutes).  Add beans, broth, and sachet.  Simmer on medium-low heat for about an hour and a half, or until beans are soft.

Remove soup from heat and let stand for ten minutes.  Remove sachet.  Puree with immersion blender.  Add lemon zest and juice and add salt or pepper to taste.

Serve, garnished with sour cream (as above; a dollop of sour cream may sink in the soup), tomato, and green onion, accompanied by a buttered slice of hearty bread.

Recipe slightly modified, but credited to The New Book of Soups by the Culinary Institute of America.


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