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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Black Bean Soup & Sweet Potato Biscuits

When people ask me what my favorite thing to cook is, I almost always answer with some sort of soup. French onion some days, butternut squash, perhaps a lively and spicy black bean soup, like this one. To me, cooking soup seems like a nearly magical process. Brown a few simple ingredients in the bottom of a large pot, perhaps onions cooked until translucent and lightly sweet, garlic and herbs, add liquid, a few other choice ingreidients, cover the pot and... Magic happens. Water becomes flavorful broth,  dense root vegetables become soft and sweet. Herbs and spices mingle on your tongue, and the whole thing can be sopped up with a nice piece of hearty bread.

We have had our first few days of true fall weather recently, the rare moment in time where 50 degrees feels just chilly enough to curl up in a blanket on your couch with a book and make every excuse not to leave the house, or run all the errands you need to. (Or is that just me?) As the months wear on, we will grow accustomed to the colder weather, and a 50 degree day will seem like such a luxury, a moment to take back out our summer clothes. But at the end of the summer, with the certain crisp air only fall can bring, 50 degrees means it's a time to make soup; to comfort yourself.

I made this soup with my (lovely and pretty) friend Sophie, one of my oldest friends, whom I met in pre-school. We attempt now to cook dinner together every Friday (before settling in to watch Fringe-- any other Fringe fans out there? WHERE IS PETER BISHOP??) and her regular email to me "What should we make this time? Should I bring wine?" has been a great motivator of many of my food posts on this blog.

This time around, unsure what to make, I linked Sophie to my pinterest board for food inspiration. She responded pointing out that many of the recipes included sweet potatoes, and it had her thinking about the African Sweet Potato Stew I often make. Since I have already blogged that recipe, I suggested making a different sort of soup, and pairing it with the Sweet Potato Biscuits I had pinned and had been wanting to try. I suggested black bean soup particularly for a few reasons:

1. I love black bean soup
2. I love the way black beans pair with sweet potato- like in this recipe
3. The ingredients for black bean soup are cheap- no lies, this is always a good motivator for me

In the end we both loved the combination, and the leftover biscuits were great for breakfast the next day, too.

too bad I can't master the perfect sour cream dollop at the moment
Since we followed the recipe with no alterations I am not including the steps in this post, but you can head over to this link to see the original recipe- it's easy and delicious, they turned out flaky and just a tiny bit sweet. Like with pie crust, the key is to keep the butter cold and handle minimally. We ended up having to handle our biscuit dough more than we intended, but even so they were tender and flaky.

The only note I would make about the above recipe, is if you are short of time, peel and poke some holes in your sweet potato, then microwave it for about 3 minutes before mashing instead of baking it. We also chose to keep our sweet potatos mashed in a chunkier style, I liked the chunks of sweet potato in each bite that this created.

And for the soup...

This soup was adapted from a recipe from Eating Well. The recipe I started with was very basic, but gave me just the guidelines I needed. I supplimented it with 2 large cloves of garlic, more lime and cilantro than it called for, and where they asked for prepared salsa I used Trader Joe's Habenero Lime salsa which really added a lively kick. If you don't have a salsa like this available to you, I would suggest adding some diced fresh hot pepper and doubling the lime juice.

Adapted from Eatingwell.com

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 15oz cans of black beans, rinsed
3 cups of water
1/2 cup prepared salsa- I used Trader Joe's brand Habenero & Lime Salsa
Salt to taste
Juice of one lime
fresh cilantro chopped, plus some additional for garnish
Sour cream to garnish


1. In a large pot heat the oil. Add chopped onions and cook until translucent- less than 5 minutes
2. Add to pot: cumin, chilli powder, minced garlic, stir and cook 2 minutes
3. Add rinsed beans, salsa  and water. add salt to taste, and adjust spices as needed at this point (remember that the heat of the soup will vary depending on what salsa you use)
4. Using a traditional or immersion blender, blend mixture minimally so that some chunks remain.
5. Add the lime juice and cilantro before serving, add additional cilantro to garnish, as well as a dollop of sour cream if desired.

Serve with cornbread, biscuits or something else delicious. Feel happy. Go watch Fringe.

1 comment:

  1. This looks really tasty. I'll have to give it a try!


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