Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Souped Up

After a fabulous trip to Fort Lauderdale, my New England new year began when I stepped off the plane into the tail end of a three day snow storm.

My initial plans were to food shop, do laundry and get re-oriented for the work week. The snow put a damper on the shopping plans, so that didn't happen. Which was just as well, since I can eat like a king for weeks with what's hidden in my pantry and freezer. I've mentioned in my last few posts that I'd been reading the recipes in the new South Beach book so I decided to give their black bean soup a try. Nothing tastes better to me, or feels more comforting on a cold, snowy night than a steaming bowl of soup. And this is a quick fix I might add. The ingredient list looks long, but I promise you it's fast, tasty and a great way to use some of your kitchen staples.

Black Bean Soup (from South Beach Supercharged)

1 T olive oil (I used canola)

4 thinly sliced scallions (I diced 1/2 of a huge onion that was in my fridge-about 1 1/2 cups)

1 thinly sliced celery stalk

4 minced garlic cloves

2 tsp ground cumin

1/8 tsp ground cayenne (I used 1/2 tsp)

pinch of salt (I used 1/4 tsp and added more later)

black pepper (I used about 1/8 tsp)

1/2 tsp chili powder -my contribution

1/4 tsp dried oregano -my contribution

2 15 oz cans black beans and their liquid

1 15 oz can diced tomatoes (I used no salt added)

1 14.5 oz can chicken broth, lower sodium, fat free

juice of 1/2 lime

Garnishes -my contribution again: shredded low fat cheddar cheese, sliced scallions, low fat sour cream, cilantro, Sriracha sauce, lime wedges

In a medium to large saucepan heat oil over medium/low heat. Add onions, celery, garlic and spices. Cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables soften. Add black beans, tomatoes and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Transfer 2 cups of the soup to a blender and process until smooth. Return blended mixture to soup pot and simmer 10 minutes more. Add lime juice and test for seasoning. This is where I added more salt. Serve hot with garnishes. SB doesn't say how may serving this makes, but I'm guessing four. And if you make it ahead, it will thicken a bit and you'll probably want to add a small amount of water when reheating.

I enjoyed this dish because it was different than most black bean soups I've had. My favorite bean soup to date is from a restaurant in San Juan (can't remember the name) that makes a rich, hearty, you can eat it with a fork type of soup. And it's SPICY. This is lighter, has no ham hocks or bacon, and with the minimal amount of cayenne and absence of jalapenos, it's probably more pleasing to the general public. And kid friendly as well. I must admit that the garnishes add a nice touch and you can be sure I helped myself to every single one of them, including the Sriracha sauce. Serve this with a crusty loaf of bread or toasted slice of lavash, and even a small salad if you like. I think you'll enjoy.

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