Black Bean and Salsa Soup

I continue to search for great vegetarian recipes. I have a couple of wonderful cookbooks I keep drawing from, but occasionally, I hit a recipe wall. Recently I was in this predicament and asked some of my Facebook friends for help.

This is tricky, because our family avoids dairy, pork, and eats gluten-free (did I miss anything?) Invariably someone’s recipe suggestion gets nixed for one of these reasons. But a friend gave me a great recipe and the best news of all is, it’s quick! The recipe calls for a can of beans, but we can buy only dried here. Never fear, it can still be quick.

Here’s the best tip ever: don’t worry about all that pre-soaking and cooking. Put dry rinsed beans in a pressure cooker and cover with three times as much water as beans and cook for 30 minutes, then let cool down by the natural cool-down method (i.e., turn it off and let it sit until it’s ready to open), and TADA! Beans, ready to pop into your favorite recipe. Just make sure you use a stainless steel pressure cooker. Those aluminum ones leach aluminum into your food, and we weren’t meant to consume aluminum!

Black Bean and Salsa Soup

Serves 4 (so we doubled it)

Ingredients

  • 1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 c. salsa
  • 1 1/2 c. vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1c. frozen corn, thawed
  • dash hot sauce
  • cornchips (We did without these because they’re not readily available. Still yummy!)

Directions

  1. Place 1 cup beans. salsa. broth, and cumin in a blender. and puree til smooth
  2. Transfer to a saucepan and add remaining beans, corn, and hot sauce to taste 
  3. Stir to combine and heat thoroughly over low heat
  4.  Once warm, serve, garnished with broken corn chips ove the top. Freshly chopped cilantro anmd a dollop of vegan sour cream or vegan yogurt also make a nice garnish
 Enjoy!

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Indian Chickpea Curry

Today I’m joining the “Try a New Recipe Tuesday” blog hop over at Home to 4 Kiddos. In a previous post, I mentioned my New Year’s resolutions. I withheld a few from that list, lest anyone should think me overly ambitious and, well, crazy.

But one of my resolutions for the year was to introduce more vegetarian cooking to my repertoire. Back home in Canada, my parents have started eating on the Hallelujah Diet–primarily raw foods. While I’m not ready to go in that direction, I am interested in going vegetarian more often, partly for the health benefits, and partly because the cost of beef and lamb has risen dramatically while we’ve been here for the last (almost) year.

The other thing I wanted to do is use my crockpot more and shop once a week. The habit here is to go to market daily, and since it’s right around the corner, and if you’re not organized, it’s an easy one to fall into. The problem is I don’t really have time to be schlepping to the market every day. Once a week shopping and a little planning affords me much more time in my daily schedule to be with my kids, or even–dare I say it–to sit down and put my feet up once in a while.

I stumbled on a slow cooker vegetarian cookbook, and I’ve been trying a few of the recipes out on my family. Since a friend who was visiting brought me some bags of dried chickpeas/garbanzo beans, something we normally can’t get here, I decided I’d give this a try. It was a big hit!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 small sweet onions, peeled and diced
  • 1 Tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 Tablespoons curry paste, mild or hot
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 2 cans chickpeas
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Rinse and drain chickpeas.
2. Heat oil in large saucepan and saute garlic, onion, ginger, and carrot until onion is translucent.
3. Transfer vegetable mixture to an 8-10 quart crockpot.
4. Add all other ingredients and turn crockpot on low heat.
5. Add more vegetable stock if liquid does not cover all the ingredients.
6. Cook curry on low for 6 hours.
7. Season to taste and serve.

Notes: Okay confession time. Whenever a slow cooker recipe tells you to put things in a frying pan first and cook them, then dump them in the slow cooker, I skip this step. Works fine. Maybe it would taste better if you made it the other way, but I wouldn’t know because I never do it that way. Call me lazy. Go ahead. But I just saved 15 minutes and a second dirty dish.

If you don’t have (or can’t get) Indian curry paste, like we can’t, this worked great as a substitute: dashes of cardamom, cloves and cinnamon, a pinch of turmeric and a whole fresh red chili.

Don’t have any cans of beans on hand? Did you know that 1/2 an hour in the pressure cooker using the natural cooling method afterward allows you to cook beans from the dry state without any pre-soaking and have them ready to use in less than an hour? Favorite tip for using any kind of bean. And every self-respecting Chinese kitchen has a pressure cooker, so naturally, so do I.

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