Friday, March 5, 2010

Black Bean Soup

I've had this recipe bookmarked as something I wanted to try for over a year now. Ever since a "stock-up" grocery trip last Spring, where I accidentally came home with about 20 cans of black beans. The hunt for black bean recipes began then. I finally got around to making this last night and I LOVED it. Seriously, loved it. I couldn't wait to eat the leftovers today. Now I want to eat it once a week, except that my boys were not fans. In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that they each turned up their noses at it, made some delightful faces accompanied by even more delightful noises to express their displeasure and choose to go hungry rather than eat it. Except for my oldest, who was willing to "down" it with his nose plugged, in order to earn dessert. But don't let my toddler boys dictate your menu, because this stuff is delicious. I have a black bean dip on here with similar flavors that I also love, so it seems that I am a fan of the black bean.

This soup is very simple, quick, and nutritious to boot (Only 125 calories for 1 cup of soup, without toppings)! It's vegetarian, but once you puree it, it has a delightful meaty texture that I simply loved. Also, my husband liked it a lot before I added the lime juice. I thought the lime juice was the best part, so try it before you add the lime juice and add as much as your taste dictates.

Source: Our Best Bites
Feeds: 4

1 T olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 medium carrots, diced (about 3/4 c)
1 medium onion, diced
2 cans black beans, rinsed well, and drained
1 3.5 oz. can green chilies (I substituted 1/2 a diced jalapeno since I was out of the canned stuff)
2 cans low sodium beef broth
1 t Kosher salt
1 dash black pepper
1/2 t chili powder
1/4 t cumin
1/4 t ground oregano
1 bay leaf (I omitted this, as we were out)
1 lime
Cilantro (optional)

Desired toppings: sour cream, cheese, tortilla chips, cilantro

1. Saute carrots, celery, onion, and garlic in olive oil, about 4-5 minutes, or until onions are translucent.

2. Add beef broth, rinsed black beans, and canned chilies. Stir to combine and add salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and bay leaf. Simmer for about 20-25 minutes, until carrots are soft.

3. Remove from heat and pull out your bay leaf. Place soup in a blender and puree until smooth. Or, use your handy dandy immersion blender and just puree it right there in the pot. I LOVE my immersion blender. My soup didn't get quite as smooth, but I liked it a little chunkier and meatier. If you'd prefer some chunks in your soup, only puree half of your soup. You're the boss of your soup!

4. Return the soup to the pot and heat it through. Taste at this point and decide if you want to add lime. If you decide that the tangy lime is what makes the soup so perfect (*ahem), then squeeze in the juice from one big lime here. Of course, you could just do 1/2 a lime if you wanted a compromise with your husband... Add some chopped cilantro if you so desire (remember... you're the boss!) and combine.

Serve with desired toppings and Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Restaraunt Style Salsa

So, Jared and I are total salsa snobs. Water snobs, too, but that's another story. We're really, really picky about our salsa and will only eat about 2 varieties. And they're both the fresh variety sold in the refrigerated section at the grocery store. We HATE canned salsa. I hate tasting vinegar in my salsa and I really detest large soggy chunks of tomato. So there you have it. Our salsa snobbery on display for the whole blogosphere to see. We should probably be ashamed of ourselves, but we simply can't help it. Salsa is important stuff.

Imagine my total delight, thrill, ecstasy, and joy when I found this post on Pioneer Woman. I already loved her, but now it seems we're destined to be BFF's! Or at least salsa buddies. All of her pre-requisites for salsa, like lots of cilantro, no vinegar, and no big chunks are identical to mine. So I was super excited to try out her insanely easy salsa recipe and even more excited to discover that I LOVED it. I mean really, really excited. I think I told Jared no less than 5 times yesterday that I was in love with this salsa. Luckily, he loves it, too.

It's easy, cheap and tastes a million times better than anything you'll buy in the store. Plus, it makes a lot. Keep it in the fridge for as long as it lasts... I'm not sure how long that is, seeing as how mine probably won't last through the weekend.

A couple notes: I actually only gave a rough chop to all these ingredients, since I knew I'd be using my food processor to make it. Once I pulsed it, my ingredients were finely chopped. So don't worry about chopping your stuff too finely if you'll be pulsing it a lot. Also, word to the wise... Pioneer Woman lied! She said it wasn't too spicy, but I found that 1 whole jalapeno made this plenty spicy. Jared thought it was perfect... it was almost too spicy for me. If you don't like too much heat in your salsa, consider just using 1/2 a jalapeno.

1 can (28 oz.) Whole tomatoes, with juice (I actually used regular diced tomatoes with juice here... worked fine)
2 cans (1o oz.) Rotel tomatoes (Diced tomatoes and green chilies)
1/4 cups chopped onion (I used about 1/2 a medium sized onion)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 whole jalapeno, chopped
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt (I used closer to 1/2 tsp.)
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 cup cilantro (or more to taste--we ended up using about 1 cup)
Juice from 1/2 lime

Combine everything in a blender or food processor. Pulse until you get the salsa to your desired consistency. Pioneer Woman recommends 10-15 pulses. I probably did more than that. Test your seasonings and adjust as needed. We added more cilantro, but we're cilantro freaks. Also, I have a small food processor and didn't feel like using my blender, so I did it in batches.

(One poster noted that the correct method for making salsa means pulsing the cilantro, onion, jalapeno, garlic and seasonings with the reserved tomato juice first. Then add the tomatoes and Rotel. In case you want to try it that way.)

If you can control yourself, refrigerate the salsa for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld. But be warned... the longer this stuff sits, the spicier it gets. Serve with chips.