I could talk about the weather here. The fact that it snowed all day yesterday, when only one day prior I was enjoying the afternoon sun on the deck. The way a northerly wind blows here, straight off the ice, bringing a face-burning chill and side-ways blowing snow. How we arrived here 4 months ago and it was exactly like this – the edge of winter – and in that time we have seen spring, summer and
But the weather seems to be all everyone is talking about. And we’re cool with that – our first arctic winter is very exciting for us! But right here is that place to talk about soup. And you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say it is soup weather.
In New Zealand I was surrounded by others who also love to cook-from-scratch. I guess I took it for granted that everyone does this. I’m learning that the biggest barrier stopping most from cooking nutritious, from-scratch meals, it simply not knowing how. It seems hard. It sounds expensive. Where do you start? And really, what’s so wrong with Hamburger Helper?
Let’s start totally from scratch! Dried beans are available in most supermarkets in small bags or in the bulk bins. We can easily source them from both Inuvik and Yellowknife for a very good price. They may take a little more effort, but you save on cans (oh so many cans), money, and additives (they need some way to preserve canned beans.)
Cooking with dried beans just requires a little forward-thinking. Rinse and sort the beans thoroughly (I always find a wee handful of stones and mutated beans) and place them (the good beans) in a large pot. Fill with water to about an inch higher than the beans. Salt generously (this helps prevent the beans splitting and peeling). Cover and leave overnight (or at least 8 hours). The following day, drain off the water, refill (about 3 cups to 1 cup of dried beans) and bring to the boil over the stove. Leave to simmer for about 45 minutes until cooked. Drain well. They can be frozen now until needed. I do this on my day’s off when I am milling around the house. Doing housy things. Then I load them into the freezer either in snaplock bags, or – my latest discovery – pack them into texas muffin pans and once frozen, transfer these bundles into bags. Great for when you just need a handful to add to a soup, stew or batch of cookies. This can be done with all beans and chickpeas, but cooking times will vary slightly so do a bit of googling.
Spicy Black Bean Soup
Serves 4 – 6
It’s not too dissimilar to the black beans on rice to be honest. A little pureeing and you have a thick soup, perfect for dunking warm fresh bread into.
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 vegetable of choice (celery, carrot, green pepper – whatever is lurking in your fridge. I used all of these), diced
1 can black beans (or just over 1 cup cooked beans)
1 can tomatoes (fire roasted!)
1 can chicken stock (or about one cup of water & 1 tsp powder. Beware of the super-salty, msg filled stuff that we made the mistake of buying.)
1 Tbsp tomato paste
Seasonings of choice (cumin, cayenne pepper, hot sauce)
Add a dash of oil to a pan over medium heat. Cook onion until translucent. Add garlic and vegetables and lightly stir fry. Add beans, tomatoes, stock, paste and seasonings. Bring to the boil. Simmer for as long as you like. Ten minutes is fine, so is 1 hour on low if you really want your house to smell good. At this point you can transfer half of the soup to a food processor and pulse until smooth. But I’m aware not everyone has a processor. A potato masher works a treat too. Otherwise it’s good as is. Serve with a dollop of yoghurt (if that’s your thing) and some warm bread.
Some of our other favorite, simple soup recipes: