Tag Archives: recipes

Black bean soup

Damnit! This is my blog and I’m gonna use it how I want! This post is for my boys. I want to now and again show how to make some simple fare. Dishes that could easily become standard for them. Food they ate growing up.

Most of my readers (I think), don’t need such instruction. So scroll on by! Unless of course you have a trick or special ingredient of your own to share.

Ingredients: One onion, one carrot, half a green pepper, the equivalent of a good sized potato, chicken stock, black beans, jalapeños. Cumin and cilantro.

To be served with a dollop of sour cream and chopped cilantro.

Since I don’t have a regular green pepper in the fridge, I’m using shishito peppers. That means I will skip the jalapeños. About every tenth shishito pepper is very hot.

It goes without saying that I prefer homemade chicken stock, but since I don’t have any, boxed will do. The fact that the key ingredients for this soup are either standard pantry items or standard root cellar items is one of its key virtues. The only grocery wild cards are cilantro and sour cream.

1. Chop veggies. Rough chop is fine, since we will be purée-ing with an immersion blender. Another virtue of this soup. Chop chop done.

2. Sauté the onions. Add a good amount of cumin halfway through. Cooking spices in the oil causes their flavor to bloom, so don’t just add later.

3. Add other root veggies and pepper and stir to coat with oil and cumin. Salt the pot.

4. Rinse the beans and add. Stir in thoroughly before adding stock.

5. Add a box of stock and if you have enough, some sprigs of cilantro.

6. Cook long enough to soften carrots and potatoes, about 20 minutes. Then purée. Taste and adjust salt.

Serve with a couple of generous tablespoons of chopped cilantro and a heaping tablespoon of sour cream (lofat works).

Delicious on its own, the soup becomes a meal with the addition of cheese quesadillas (also super simple to make) or, if lazy, cheese toast.

Bon appetit!

PS If using shishito peppers, be prepared to add a few disks of jalapeños. This batch was a little bland because none of the shishitos were hot.

Also, because I had half an ear of corn leftover in the fridge, I added it and another half can of beans after puréeing. Soup will have a little chunk, which is sometimes nice. The other half can of beans will be added to a salad later in week.

KITCHEN NOTE: I keep an appliance-tool spare kitchen. For instance, I squeeze lemons with one hand, poking with a knife if need be. I use the other hand to catch the seeds. No metal or plastic tool needed.

But! I have two sizes of Cuisinarts (and use both all the time) and consider an immersion blender one of the very best appliances going.

You can, of course, use a blender. It means pouring hot soup into the blender (which for me also requires sliding a stepping stool into place) and possibly doing so in two batches. More to clean afterwards.

Cold Weather Salads

In the colder weather, we want sturdier, starchier foods. The craving applies to salads, too. This selection of ‘cold weather salads’ relies on typical pantry items, which means with a well-stocked larder you can make most of them with little or no planning.
Nothing like toothsome barley to satisfy the need for something deliciously starchy! Add some chic peas, diced red onion, chopped green olives and orange pepper, toss with parsley and a vinaigrette and you’ve got yourself a Company Worthy salad! Unlike many others, this holds for days in the fridge.

Dress up red leaf with some deli-style olives and artichoke hearts out of the can. Yum! While I generally prefer white or rice vinegar, a balsamic vinegar adds to the visual sense of a dark and hearty mixture.

Sunflower seeds and cannellini beans, both readily kept on hand, dress up any salad — here find them nicely partnered with spinach and red cabbage.

Hearts of palm and again, sunflower seeds, turn an otherwise pedestrian salad into something a little special. Scallions and radish add pizzazz. The dressing here is Marie’s Lite Blue Cheese mixed with lemon and garlic. It’s the only store bought dressing I ever use. If you’ve a brand you really like, let me know! Generally, I find that little compares with homemade mustard/garlic vinaigrette.

This salad combines radicchio, sunflower seeds, chic peas and carrot ribbons with bitter greens. In the cold weather, it’s nice to have pops of color on our plates and even though we associate bitter greens with spring, they’re available all year ’round. Partner with a sweet potato for a light, mid-week meal.
  Roasted beets of any color constitute a real treat in my book. Wrap them in foil, throw ’em in a medium oven for an hour, use the foil to scrape away the skin and voila! — you have a tender, sweet vegetable that really needs no adornment. Here, I’ve mixed yellow beets with canned white beans, olives and lots of pepper prior to dressing with a vinaigrette.

If my friend Elizabeth ever produces another batch of this exquisite oil, I’ll let you know. It’s delicious on salads and good for direct application to hair and skin, too.

Escarole, mung bean sprouts, and radishes. Not sure why this salad made it into the ‘cool weather file,’ but I’d eat it this late November week for sure.

Chicken Waldorf Salad is special any time of year, but in November it’s particularly satisfying. I’ve skipped the greens and the grapes and added wild rice. Walnuts are a must, as are celery and some kind of onion. I didn’t do so here, but roasting the nuts briefly in a saute pan brings out their flavor. This is a wonderful use of leftover chicken.