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Black Bean Vegetable Soup

Black Beans

Oh, beans. I love you.

Cast iron

Ah, cast iron Dutch oven. There is no better destination for those lovely beans – not when they’re destined to become that wonderful, wonderful dish that is a perfect bean soup.

I didn’t do a step-by-step pictorial this time, largely because, well, I forgot. But it’s okay, really! You don’t need pictures of chopped vegetables, and you really don’t need pictures of a Dutch oven sitting on a stove, covered and emitting luscious aromas for several hours. If a picture is worth a thousand words, those smells are tomes, and the only way to share them would be to have you come to my house or to share the recipe. I’d love to do the former, but here’s the latter!

This is the first real recipe from The Veganomicon that I’ve tried, and I’ve been eager to do it, just as soon as we cleared the fridge and freezer of our other soup leftovers. I finished the last of Eric’s Tomato and Red Bean Tortilla soup this afternoon, so I dived into this immediately!

Soak a pound of black beaks, six hours or (as I did) overnight. There are tricks to shorten that, but from what I’ve heard, using big amounts baking soda and creating plumes of green foam might be dramatic but will also cut away swaths of the good stuff you want from your beans. Don’t be tempted by expedience. Take those soaked beans, rinse them, and put them into the cast iron pot with about six cups of water, two bay leaves, and one pinch (just one!) of baking soda. Simmer for about an hour and a half, until they’re tender.

While that’s happening, chop up a couple onions, four cloves of garlic, and a bell pepper (the book called for green, but I had a yellow going spare, and I liked the idea of more color). I was still lovin’ on my cast iron Dutch oven, so I decided to continue the theme by getting out the large cast iron frying pan; into that, I put three tablespoons of olive oil. Cook the garlic until it pops, and then add the onion and pepper; cook them about 15 minutes, until they’re soft.

In the meantime, chop a celery stalk and a peeled carrot. The book also calls for a seeded jalapeno, but since I was out, I chopped and subbed in two serranos. When the onions and peppers are soft, go ahead and add these veggies to the skillet and cook another ten minutes or so, until the carrots start softening.

Check the beans! They should be soft at this point, so take out the bay leaves and throw in the veggies, four cups of vegetable broth, and some Mexican seasonings: half a tablespoon of cumin, two teaspoons of oregano, and a teaspoon of thyme. If you wanted, and the family doesn’t mind, you could definitely toss in some red pepper, too, but I was still holding out hope that Sam might enjoy this one, so I held back. Bring it to a boil, tip the lid of the Dutch oven, and reduce it to a simmer for another half-hour.

Black Bean Vegetable Soup

Take it off the heat, let it cool a bit, and then add a tablespoon of white wine vinegar, along with some salt and fresh ground black pepper. Try not to salivate everywhere. Veganomicon: 1, hunger: 0.

Serves 8. Per serving, as written – Fat: 5.3g; Carbohydrates: 41.7g; Calories:183.2; Protein: 14.3g.

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