Black and White Bean Soup
One day I'll get off of my soup kick and post entries for ICSA of a different nature but when beans were chosen, I just had to do this. This is a really cheap and easy dish to make and it'll give you lots for lunches or future servings via freezing. It's also really good for you and will fill you up without a whole lot of guilt.
Vegetarians can omit all things meat to suit themselves, but I really like the smoky flavour bacon gives to bean dishes.
You'll need the following:
- 3-4 strips side bacon
- 1 can each white kidney and black beans
- 12 oz crushed tomato
- 3 cups chicken, pork or vegetable stock
- 1/2 red onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 4 green onions
- 4 stalks celery
- 1 enormous carrot (or 3 regular sized ones)
- 3 ears fresh corn (a can of niblets will do too!)
- 1/4 cup fresh coriander (known as cilantro elsewhere)
- 1tbsp grated cheddar or jack
- Salt, pepper, and other spices you like.
I used generic beans and tomatoes from the grocery priced at under $1.50 each. I was also going to use canned corn but I saw it fresh at the supermarket and thanked science and superior logistics for bestowing it to me in such a cold grey month up here. You can also use dried beans for even less money, but you'll need to soak them overnight or your soup will be crunchier than you want it to be.
- Start by frying your bacon over medium heat. What you want to do is cook it so its done but not too crispy as its going to give the soup a meaty base.
- As far as bacon goes, the stuff I used was quite lean and thick so I didn't have much fat to drain. Other bacon I've cooked in the past will yield a lot of fat, so use a bit of caution. Once it's cooked through, remove it from the pan and drain its fat until you've got just enough to sautee up your onion and garlic, which should be chopped up nicely.
- While that's going on, open up your cans of beans and drain them in a collander. Rinse them well as they're often packed in salted water.
- Prep your vegetables. Peel and cut them up into pieces that'll cook nicely over time but don't be concerned about them being neat and evenly diced. I think by the way, that this is the largest carrot in the world!
- Shuck your corn and remove husks and silk. Stand an ear up on your cutting board and cut off the kernels, but don't go too fast or you'll make an even bigger mess of the kitchen than if you were to go slowly. Alternatively, if you're using canned corn, drain it and rinse it well as again it may be packed in salted water.
- Get your broth ready by preparing it in a 6 litre pot. I really like the pre-made stocks sold frozen at upscale groceries as they're made without salt or seasoning, as I don't keep bones on hand to make stock from scratch. I realize they're a bit pricey to use exclusively, but they really add a lot of body to your dishes if you use them. You can also use boullion cubes, but just be careful with them as they're often very salty and contain MSG.
- Cut up your reserved bacon and add it along with the beans, celery, corn and green onion to your stock. Turn on your stove to medium high, cover and clean up the mess you've made of the kitchen.
- After a while, things should be smelling delicious when you take the lid off of your pot. Taste the broth, and season it as you wish now for you're nearly done. At this point, I added salt, pepper and some ground chiles.
- Chop up the coriander and open your can of tomatoes. Add them both to the soup, but reserve a bit of coriander as a garnish if you've not thrown what is left of your green onion into the compost. As well, if you've got some cheddar or jack cheese, grate some and reserve.
- It is now time to make a mess of the kitchen again, so if you didn't clean like I suggested before, you're going to have work extra hard either before you serve the soup or once you're slipping into a food coma. And who wants to do dishes then?
- Strain the vegetables and meat from the liquid by balancing a collander over a mixing bowl. If there is an extra pair of hands around, enlist them to steady things as you'll have more solid than liquid to work with and there will be a bit of splashing. I think I should have reccomended a smock somewhere in the ingredients list.
- Get out your food processor and puree everything. Here is what it looks like before,
- and after
- the blades have done the work. Resist the urge to wrap the bean and veg mixture in tortillas here, because you're nearly done and I told you to reserve that cheese!
- Add the vegetables back into the broth over low heat and stir it well. All of the gloopy solidity needs to be eliminated so it's smooth when you're ready to serve it up.
- Ladle the soup carefully into bowls and garnish with the sacred cheese and green onion. Pair this with a glass of aged Gewurztraminer. I'm sure it'd be just as nice with a glass of apple juice or an equally sweet wine.