Monday, December 2, 2013

Brazilian Black Bean Soup

I know its time for a post-Thanksgiving-detox, but Turkey Day's hearty fare has won over my heart. Though probably way overdue for a Blueprint cleanse, winter is officially here, and the thought of a green juice right seems somehow sacrilege. In a quest to find a middle ground between pumpkin pies and a cayenne lemon drink, I introduce to you this Brazilian Black Bean Soup. If you've been eating a steady diet of butternut squash, thyme, sage and brussels sprouts comme moi, this soup's spicy, ethnic flare will do you good.

Although it utilizes mostly pantry items, you'd never guess how simple this "soup," (its really more of a stew once you add the rice) upon tasting its robust, tangy flavors, is. Peppered generously with spicy cumin and hot sauce, the earthy black beans and tender onion, pepper, and carrot mingle harmoniously amongst a secret ingredient—orange juice—which delivers a subtle sweetness and perfect acidity in every bite. These fiery, citrus undertones elevate what could be a standard black bean soup a mega cut above the rest.
I use orange juice in cooking a lot more often than expected; most often to substitute vinegars in salad dressings. To keep a steady supply on hand, my secret weapon is a can of orange juice concentrate: it lasts months in the freezer, and defrosts in seconds. I highly suggest making the investment!

A cross between a burrito bowl and glorified, brothy rice and beans; this soup embodies comfort without being boring. The original recipe called for overnight cooking dry black beans, but I simplified the version by using canned—and I was more than satisfied with its abundant spice and flavors. Top generously with cilantro and chopped scallion for garnish, and finish with a heaping dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt—the creamy consistency folds perfectly into the savory rice and beans.
Brazilian Black Bean Soup (from The Moosewood Cookbook)
Serves: 6 to 8

1 15 oz can black beans (about 2 cups)
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cups chopped onion
8 medium cloves garlic, crushed (adjusted)
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp salt
1 medium carrot, diced
1 medium bell pepper, diced
1/2 cups orange juice (can be from orange juice concentrate)
black pepper, to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste
1 tbsp hot sauce
1 1/2 cups brown rice
Optional toppings: sour cream/plain greek yogurt, cilantro, salsa, or chopped scallions

1. Cook rice according to package directions.
2. While rice is cooking, heat olive oil in a medium sized skillet. Add onion, half the garlic, cumin, salt, and carrot. Saute over medium heat until the carrot is just tender. Add remaining garlic and the bell pepper. Saute until everything is very tender (another 10 to 15 minutes). Add beans.
3. Stir in orange juice, black pepper, cayenne, and hot sauce. Puree soup with an immersion blender until a chunky consistency is reached.
4. Serve over rice, with a generous sprinkle of your favorite toppings.

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