Friday, May 27, 2011

Black Bean And Tomato Soup

Black Bean Soup
Did you know that black beans stain almost as badly blueberries? Well, they do. I know... I've been scrubbing scrubbing scrubbing dark stains off the once creamy white-ish interior of my enameled cast iron Dutch oven all afternoon.*

I made this really great black bean soup you see, and I tried to use my Dutch oven to make it in. Now, while it probably might have worked, the pot was so full that I got a little nervous. I grabbed my big stock pot and transferred the soup over — now it could have some wiggle (and slosh) room and I could have some peace of mind.

This soup just rocks on so many levels, it's hard to know where to start. It's amazingly easy, super affordable, makes a ton, and tastes fantastic. Oh, and one of my very favorite recipe terms applies as well... "largely unattended". That means I get to go do something else for a while and when I come back dinner is ready. What's not to love about that, right? 

It has a big meaty rich flavor, or as Hubs described it, "Mmm, it's delightful!". Ain't it amazing what a couple slices of bacon can do to a soup? Well, he loved it and so did I.... and that's good... we have a lot of it. Or did I mention that part already?

Black Bean And Tomato Soup 
adapted from Black Bean Soup on page 163 of Gourmet On The Run (1987), by Jane Kirby
    1 lb. black beans (dried)
    2 slices of thick-cut bacon
    1 vidalia onion
    1 carrot
    1 stalk of celery
    2 cloves of garlic
    14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes
    Better Than Bouillon (Beef) or 6 cups low-sodium beef broth
    1/2 tsp ground black pepper
    1/2 tsp dried oregano
    1 glug of vermouth
    grated Romano (for serving)

    Pick dried beans over, then rinse thoroughly. Put beans into a large pan and add water to cover by an inch. Bring pot of beans to a boil. Cook two minutes, then cover and remove from heat. Let stand for 1 hour.

    While the beans are soaking, do the rest of the prep: Chop the bacon, onion, carrot and celery. Smash and mince the garlic. If using Better Than Bouillon, now is the time to boil up some water and mix it up to make 6 cups of broth.

    When the bean-soaking-hour is up: Brown the bacon in a large, heavy-bottomed stock pot. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic to the pot and sauté until onion is translucent and carrots are tender.

    Now, add the beans (including the soaking liquid) and the can of tomatoes (also including the liquid) to the stock pot. Add the seasonings, beef broth, and vermouth. Stir well. Bring to a boil.

    Reduce heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for 2 hours. Before serving, skim any fat off the surface. If you like a thicker soup, use a stick-blender to purée some of the beans right in the pot. Serve it up and enjoy!

    Notes: Grate a little Romano cheese over each bowl of soup and serve with some hearty sourdough or toasted whole-grain bread. The whole thing takes a little over three hours start to finish... largely unattended. Frozen bacon is super easy to chop. Makes approx. 3 quarts. Freezes wonderfully. Don't forget to wear an apron!

    *I gave up on scrubbing and let it soak overnight with baking soda and water. It did wonders. A quick wash the next morning and it's good as ever. Yea!
    **Just what is "Umami"? Sometimes called the "fifth taste", it is a savoriness found in certain foods that makes them taste mouth-watering and satisfying, meaty and full-flavored. Read more about it here
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