You know the kind of days I’m referring to when you want something quick and comforting and you want it now. That was how I felt the other night. It was already past our dinner time and I was hungry and my blood sugar had dropped almost, but not quite to the point of irritation. If we hadn’t had these ingredients in the pantry, and if my husband wasn’t as helpful . . . but then I’m not going there as everything was in place and dinner was on the table in about half an hour and all was well.
No muss, no fuss, easy and satisfying
The ingredients list is pretty straight forward and basically revolves around a number of pantry staples such as onion and garlic and canned black beans, corn and diced tomatoes. I “created” this soup one day last year when I was in the same state. You might want to bookmark this page so you can easily find this recipe when you need it. 😉
Black Beans from Dried Beans
What? Why are we talking about cooking beans from scratch? Because, it was quite the amazing synchronicity that within less than 24 hours of preparing this Quick Black Bean Soup, I received an email from Cook’s Illustrated with their newest and best technique for cooking beans. I tried it and really like their method. By cooking the beans in a slow oven they are out of sight and so the process seems effortless—nothing to do but let them cook without concern for occasional stirring or their sticking to the pan or the water cooking down and the beans drying out.
So for those days when you have more time and the inclination, I’ve included the Cook’s Illustrated technique for cooking beans. I’ve also included instructions within the recipe for making this quick soup using either canned beans or your home-cooked beans.
Whether you use canned beans or your home-cooked beans, this really is a quick soup to prepare. It is gluten-free and vegan (depending on the yoghurt). One change I would make when I have the time to cook the beans would be to add the tomatoes to the beans after they have baked for one hour. Use organic products if you can, especially the diced tomatoes and corn.
Yield: 16+ cups
3 25-ounce cans black beans, undrained OR 1 pound of dried black beans cooked according to the recipe below (or according to your favorite recipe)
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1½ cups canned or frozen corn
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 medium cloves garlic, pushed through a garlic press
1 Serrano or jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely minced OR a half teaspoon red pepper flakes or more to taste
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
If you cook your own beans, use all of the cooking broth and enough additional water as necessary to equal 4½ cups
If you use canned beans, use all of the liquid from the cans PLUS 3 cups of vegetable stock (or water and 1 tablespoon vegetable bouillon paste (i.e., Better Than Bouillon Organic Vegetable Base)
Cook the black beans according to the above recipe or open the cans of black beans.
Put the olive oil into a soup pot over medium-high heat. When it’s hot add the diced onion. Cover the pot and cook for about 10 minutes till the onion is translucent and begins to color. Stir in the garlic and minced pepper, cumin, thyme and salt. Cook uncovered for another minute. Add the diced tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes.
Stir in the black beans and their cooking broth; OR the canned black beans, their liquid and the bouillon paste and water OR the vegetable stock. Raise the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil. Lower the heat so the soup simmers, and cook partially covered for 10 minutes. Stir in the corn. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
For a richer texture, use a blender to puree two cups of the soup, and then stir the puree back into the soup. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.
Serve garnished with as many or as few of the garnishes as you have on hand. Note: for a quick and tasty topping, squeeze fresh lime juice into the yoghurt or sour cream along with some ground cumin and salt and pepper to taste.
How to Cook Beans
the Cook’s Illustrated Way
Cook’s Illustrated used cannellini beans and I used black beans, so perhaps this method works with all beans—do let me know your results if you try this method with other kinds of beans.
Makes about 5½ cups of beans
Dissolve the salt in the water. Add the sorted and rinsed beans and presoak them at room temperature from 8-24 hours. Drain and rinse the beans very well to remove any salt water from their surface. Place the beans in an oven proof pot with a lid. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
Here’s my adaptation on the recipe: I add 6 cups of water, two bay leaves and 1 large clove of peeled, smashed garlic to the beans. (Discard the bay and garlic once the beans are cooked.)
Bring the water just to a boil and then cover the pot and place it in the preheated oven. Bake the beans for 1½ hours. Remove the pot from the oven and check that the beans are soft; if not cook in 15 minute increments until they are. Mine were perfect—very creamy and tender. I ended up with 5½ cups of black beans and 4½ cups of broth.
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