Thursday, July 16, 2009

Heart Sisters' Garden Black Bean Soup

Okay, please ignore the fact that I have been incognito for, er, a long time.

Some interesting developments: Mr. Heart and I have been tending our very own little garden this summer which has involved harvesting a large number of scallions and salad greens which have been wonderful! I also have five or six pots of herbs which has been a thrill too--I can just lean out the back door and snip off a bit of greek oregano (which is growing like crazy) or fresh basil or thyme. Hopefully August will turn some of the small green tomatoes we see peeking out into fresh, lucious fruit. Alas, our pepper plants seem to be very unhappy with all this rain and the cool temperature. I should have known. Sister Heart warned me.

She should know because she's been working on a farm this summer! Ah, the way sisters' lives orbit one another and weave together. So she has been a bounty of first hand knowledge (and produce!) Because of her Mr. Heart and I have resolved to plant english peas next summer. The ones she shared with us were like candy. There's nothing like having so many delicious fresh veggies at hand. I've been doing my best to hit up the small farmer's market near my office every Thursday, and the bigger one downtown when I have time.

I want to get the recipe down on paper because I got it from Sister Heart (!) and she inspired me to make it the very same day. These are more like a set of guidelines really, because you can put whatever you have on hand straight in. I've included my contributions and Sister Heart's so that you can get a sense of the variety (and health benefits!). This makes 4-5 "cup" size servings and maybe 2 -3 "bowl" size servings. Pictures will come later!

Heart Sisters' Garden Black Bean Soup

1/2 lb dry black beans, rinsed and sorted
2 cans of vegetable broth + 2 cups water (I used canned broth, Sissie used the water from blanching 864168161 lbs of peas)
1 white onion, minced
1 tomato, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
2 scallions, chopped
1 clove of garlic or garlic scape minced
1 1/2 tsp sea salt (this is an estimate... put in as much as you like!)
1/2 tsp cumin (ditto)
1/2 tsp black pepper (ditto)
1/2 TBS fresh chives
1/2 TBS fresh thyme
1/2 TBS fresh oregano
1 TBS olive oil

Sister Heart's version also included:
fresh parsley
kohlrabi greens
radish greens
purslane (has 5 times the amount of omega-3 fatty acids as spinach)
wood sorrel (has lots of medicinal properties)

The latter two are edible weeds!

Optional Toppings
1 lime, juiced
greek yogurt or sour cream
grated cheddar cheese

1) Bring the vegetable broth and water to a boil in a dutch oven or large heavy bottomed pot. Add the beans and half the onion and half the salt. Bring back to almost a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and mostly cover. Simmer for 2 hours or until beans are tender but not split!
2) Meanwhile, in a non-stick skillet, heat olive oil until shimmering. Add remaining onion, tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, any greens, salt, cumin, and black pepper. Sauté until the tomatoes have fallen apart and the rest of the vegetables are tender. Add scallions and fresh herbs. Toss to combine and remove from heat until the beans are done.
3) Once the beans are tender, add the sautéed vegetables to the beans. Turn heat up to medium and heat to incorporate flavors and cook off some of the liquid. Season to taste.
**At this point I also went at it with my handy-dandy immersion blender to make it a little smoother. Cook's Illustrated recommends using a potato masher to achieve the same effect. I'm pretty sure Sister Heart left her's au naturel.
4) If serving immediately, stir in lime juice. Serve with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and a TBS of grated cheese. Goes great with quesadillas!

Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days. Otherwise, freeze in handy single serving portions for those nights you don't feel like cooking or need a heartening pick-me up meal.

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