I was so excited when I got my first local box and found some beautiful black beans among its contents. The past few years as life has been too busy I got into the bad habit of buying canned, pre-cooked beans, but I am making a real effort to cook them from scratch again, both because they taste better and because we are trying to source more of our food locally. Plus, a pantry shelf lined with glass jars of dry beans in all colors is a beautiful sight in my opinion.
Aside from the spices, the recipe below is made with entirely local food, most of it from our local box. I made the soup with bacon and chicken stock, but it is very easily transitioned into a vegetarian meal for those who prefer to eliminate or limit their meat consumption.
Local’s Only Black Bean Soup
(the following amounts are for four servings of soup, which is just right for our small family. The recipe is easily doubled)
1 cup dry black beans, soaked in 3 cups cold water overnight
3 slices bacon (or 3 tblspoons of olive or grapeseed oil)
2 large cloves garlic
1 small onion
1/2 orange carrot
1/2 yellow carrot
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 ½ teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ceyenne pepper (this makes the soup what I would call “medium” heat)
4-6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Sour cream and cilantro to garnish
1. If using bacon, cook slices until crispy in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Remove bacon and set aside.
2. While bacon is cooking, put garlic, onions, and carrots in food processor and dice until fine.
3. Add garlic and veggies to bacon grease (or heated olive oil if you are not using bacon) and cook for five minutes.
4. Stir in all spices and simmer for 1 minute.
5. Add beans and 4 cups of the broth. Cook on slow boil until beans are tender, about 2 hours, adding more broth as needed to keep the mixture at soup consistency. Stir occasionally.
6. When the beans are tender, blend half of the soup. I use a hand blender that goes right into the soup pot, but you can just as easily put half the soup in the blender or food processor, as long as you are careful you do not burn yourself.
7. Garnish with bacon crumbles, sour cream, and cilantro
Serve this soup over rice or with tortilla chips or, if you feel like baking, these delicious corn bread muffins. Enjoy!
-Nicole Marsh-Mueller loves to cook locally and seasonally for her family and blogs at The Armchair Housewife
photo credit: Nicole Marsh-Mueller