Thanks Punxsutawney Phil! (black bean soup)
I (Emily) go back and forth on ways to handle winter. There’s denial. “What are you talking about – it’s 75 degrees outside!” Or happy acceptance. “Look at how powdery and peaceful that first snow of the year is!” Then there’s of course my favorite – delusion. “Did you all notice those giant piles of ice cream on the sidewalk this morning? Looks like rocky road!” Finally, the fourth phase is the one I entered yesterday – sheer and utter anger. “You know what snow? Buzz off! We’re over and done with and I don’t want to see you and your jerky cousin ice ever again.” Unfortunately snow, sleet and ice are inanimate objects and don’t respond well to threats.
My original thought was to fight back by making a huge assortment of incredibly summery dishes. Anything with watermelon or peaches or tomatoes – oh tomatoes. According to my plans, snow was going to be so defeated by my cheery, winsome attitude and sunny concoctions. But it turns out getting even drab, wintry versions of those summer delicacies would involve leaving my cozy little cave and trudging a couple miles through the snow/sleet/ice mix. I can’t begin to tell you how unlikely that is to happen. Winter 83 – Emily 0.
That’s alright, I’ll stay right here thankyouverymuch and do the best with what I have on hand. I’ve got some fun ideas on schedule for dinner that I’ll tell you about later, but for lunch I indulged in some leftover black bean soup from our last SK day. The soup I’ve thus far neglected to tell you about. The soup bursting with, if not summer flavors, tons of southwestern flavors. The soup that will save me from entering stage 5 of winter, which is the phase in which I cry tears of desperation every time I have to leave my apartment.
The black bean is obviously king in this one, but the supporting characters are Oscar-worthy. A soup isn’t a soup without a delicious topper – from cream, to pesto, to pistou – and this soup comes equipped with a tangy crema. The bell peppers were my favorite ingredient, while the roasted garlic was Amanda’s. Thankfully, the slow-cooker double batch we made was large enough to keep both of us fed and warm for a long time. Winter 83 – Emily and Amanda 1.
Black Bean Soup with Toasted Cumin Crema
Adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen
Black Bean Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 medium-size red onions, chopped
1 medium-size red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium-size green bell pepper, chopped
8 garlic cloves, roasted (or 4 unroasted, see note on roasting)
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 16-ounce package dried black beans
1/2 to 1 tablespoon chopped chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
7 cups hot water
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Start by roasting garlic. This is an idea that Amanda got off the Kitchn to give a sweeter garlic-y flavor. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Take one head of garlic and remove the outermost layers of skin. Cut off the top quarter of the garlic head to expose the cloves and place on a large square of foil. Sprinkle with a couple teaspoons olive oil, some salt and ground pepper. You can add fresh thyme or rosemary as well, which will give some extra taste to the garlic if you want to eat the remaining cloves as an appetizer. Cook 50 minutes to an hour, or until cloves are golden brown.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium to high heat before adding the onions and bell peppers. Sauté these until the onions are translucent and the peppers brown a little (approximately 8 minutes).
Add in garlic and cumin. If using roasted garlic cloves add them into the mixture and use the back of a wooden spoon to smash them and expose their flavors. Otherwise, add in minced unroasted garlic. Stir for one minute and transfer mixture to a 6-quart slow cooker. Pick through beans and then add these in, as well as the chipotles. The chipotles are delicious but spicy, so add in as much as you think you can handle. We only did a half tablespoon and it the resulting spice level was mild. Add 7 cups hot water, cover and cook on high until beans are tender. This took about 3.5 hours for us, but can range anywhere from 2.5 to 6.
Transfer two cups of bean mixture to blender and puree until smooth (or use an immersion blender). Return puree to soup and stir in lime juice, salt and pepper. You might need more salt, to taste. Serve immediately, or whenever the craving hits along with toasted cumin crema.
Toasted Cumin Crema
1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
1 cup crema, crème fraîche, (or sour cream or yogurt, in a pinch)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Place the cumin in a small pan over medium heat and toast until it starts to brown. Use a mortar and pestle, or your preferred grinding machine, to grind the seeds. Stir into creme (or any of the dairy products above) and season with salt and pepper, to taste. We didn’t have time to make our own crème fraîche, so we used yogurt and it tasted great.