Sunday, March 20, 2011

Souper Bean

The Facts
60% of daily fiber needs
15 g of protein (40 g total daily)
20% of daily iron needs
227 calories
0 cholesterol and 0 sugar
40 cents for canned beans, 10 cents for raw bagged version

The truth is, black beans are amazing for a healthy diet, full of thiamin, magnesium, phosphorus and folate. And, if you keep the sodium low, you can add lots of flavor and life to a pretty awesome bean. I had a bean party the other night and made (surprise!) two gallons of bean soup. Heh, I didn't mean to, but now I have bean soup for the rest of my life...or the next month or 2. I've adapted it to 1 gallon (enough to fit in my 4-quart crock pot). Here's how it went:

Makes 4 quarts, or 8 entree servings

8 oz dry black beans, rinsed and separated
4 oz green lentils, rinsed
4 oz white beans, rinsed
6 oz black eyed peas, rinsed
4 oz of another bean of your choosing (kidney, lima, navy...I used split green peas)
2-3 quarts of reduced sodium organic stock (chicken, vegetable, or beef)
1/2 teaspoonful sea salt, more to taste (smoked salt, if you have it)
olive oil
1 large onion
red pepper flakes, garlic powder, smoked paprika, jalapeno (optional)

Put all of the raw beans in a stock pot and cover with cool water (leave 2 inches of water above the beans). Let sit, uncovered, for 1 hour to soak.

After the hour, strain out water and fill pot again with same amount of water (or part water-part stock if you're feeling fancy). Boil on medium high for 15 minutes or so, checking to see if the beans are a little soft and cooked. (Don't overcook...they will cook more in the crock later.)

Strain beans from water and transfer to your crock pot, setting it on high heat. Add one quart of the stock. Cover and let simmer.

Meanwhile, drizzle a little olive oil (1 t.)  in a pan and saute the chopped onion. I like to saute it just enough to brown the edges but not enough to make the onions limp and greasy. Throw those in the crock pot. **Disclaimer...this is your opp to throw in anything that you don't like to eat every day but that every health guru/nutritionist/Jillian Michaels says you should eat. This includes kale, spinach, broccoli, corn, roasted red pepper, bell peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, leeks, and other such rabbit foods. I would saute those for a couple of minutes, depending on the crunch you want, then throw them in the crock.***

Okay, back to the soupiness. At this point, add the second quart of stock and add the spices of your choosing. I used red pepper flakes, the amazing alderwood smoked sea salt from Whole Foods, garlic cloves (3), garlic powder (redundant), a little Cavender's, and a smile. Then I walked away from the crock, covered, and let it do its thing. While waiting, I went to Target and picked up a few things, did some homework, and did some laundry.

Ah, the joy of the crock babysitting necessary. If I told you I stirred it every 10 minutes to keep the flavors blending, I would be lying. I came back in two hours. Yes, two hours.

Matt & I found our big red ladle, scooped up 2 cups of soup in each bowl, and he topped his with smoked swiss slices and smoked paprika. Mm, mm, good.

So that, my friends, is why soup is awesome. It is easy, you can leave it alone for a long while, and it always tastes better on the second or third day (yay for leftovers!). Don't stress out, it's just bean soup. 

*Serve it on brown rice or even a whole grain pasta, like bowtie, if you're feeling super fancy.
*TOTAL COST: $10 (That's 8 meals for $10!!) EVEN BETTER, you have enough beans left over for a 2nd batch!
*This soup is as creative as you, so throw in produce that needs to be eaten soon, frozen veggies that you've been meaning to cook, and maybe a meat or tofu that were from a leftover.
*This soup freezes well...I put it in 2 cup containers (for lunch) or pint containers (dinner for 2) for easier storage and quick grabs.

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