As a meat replacement black beans really deliver. They’re not only low-cost and delicious, but a nutritional powerhouse, packing in—well you name it—fiber, protein, antioxidants, calcium, folic acid, plus important minerals like iron, magnesium and potassium. They even contain small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
On the side
With meatless meals, I work a little harder with extras to add a luxurious feel. This soup becomes special with a few tasty additions: sprinkles of fresh cilantro and green onion, a simple guacamole, creamy organic yoghurt, and corn tortilla chips fresh from the oven with a bit of oozy cheese on top.
Canned or dried?
The other issue when cooking beans usually becomes “canned or dried”? In true less-meatarian style, I’d say that’s up to you. In my house, I keep both canned and dried beans on-hand. When I’m stuck for time, canned beans are perfect. However, I also find that dried beans elevate this dish to another level, so try them if you get the chance!
BLACK BEAN SOUP
This is hands-down my favourite way of using black beans.
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups dried black beans, rinsed & soaked overnight (or 2 cans black beans, rinsed)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 small red pepper, chopped
1 cup frozen corn kernels
½ tsp finely chopped and seeded fresh jalapeno (optional)
1 tbsp cumin (or more if you like)
2 tsp chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
5 cups good-quality vegetable broth (chicken broth works well too)
1 cup water
Chopped cilantro and green onions (optional)
Que Pasa Organic Tortilla Chips
ounce or two of cheddar or similar cheese
1 ripe avocado
1 fresh lime
Plan organic yoghurt
Hot pepper sauce
- In a large soup pan, heat olive oil.
- Add onion and garlic and sauté for a minute or so. Add celery and carrot and sauté for another couple of minutes. Add zucchini, red pepper and corn. Continue sautéing for a couple of minutes.
- Next add black beans, jalapeno (if using), cumin, chili powder, and salt and pepper. Sauté until spices are fragrant.
- Add broth and water.
- Cover and simmer for 2 to 2 ½ hours, stirring occasionally. (If soup is becoming too thick, add a little more water.)
When soup is almost done
- Taste soup, confirm beans have softened nicely. Also season as required.
- Smash one ripe avocado and add your desired combination of: salt, fresh lime juice, chopped cilantro and red pepper sauce.
- Place tortilla chips in an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with grated cheddar or similar cheese. Place in 350”F oven until cheese melts.
When soup is done
- Using a handheld immersion blender, pulse the soup to give it some creaminess. (Do this to your desired consistency.)
- Serve soup with yoghurt, guacamole and chips, cilantro, green onions and hot pepper sauce, which all work equally well as soup garnish, or a side...or both.
Less-meatarian note: A bit of leftover meat (beef, chicken, smoked sausage or crumbled bacon) makes a great addition to this soup as well, for those times you may not be going meatless.
"Make or buy? Canned vs. homemade beans," www.thekitchn.com
"The battle of the beans: which are best?," The Today Show
“Black Beans: Nutrition From South of the Border,” The New York Times
My previous blog post on "less-meatarianism"