Tuesday, September 30, 2008

black bean soup and cornbread

Cooking is one of my favorite things to do, and I'm really glad that I'm going to be home and able to cook a meal most of the time.

I tend to get into ruts with cooking, in that I tend to cook the same recipes over and over again. But hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?

Maybe I shouldn't call it a rut. I guess these recipes are more just staple recipes for us. Most of them are quick, easy, and cheap, and, obviously, they are yummy, or I wouldn't keep making them so often. I'm hoping to post a few of them over the next weeks and months, because I know I am always on the lookout for good recipes, and I've found a couple of favorites through recommendations from friends.

I've made black bean soup a few times recently, since the weather has started to turn, and I'm reminded again just how much I love it.

I initially had black bean soup in Maine, at our friends' Joey and Lisa's house. I also had it at a restaurant called Norm's, which was next door to Brett's school in Maine. At Norm's, you could get a cup of soup and a slice of cornbread for something like $3, which suited our poor-student budget quite well.

Lisa's recipe wasn't exactly like the one at Norm's, and I've been trying to get it a little closer to what I remember the soup being like at Norm's. I think I'm pretty dang close, and I think it's really, really good.

So this recipe started with the one Lisa gave me, but I've added quite a bit -- the red pepper, the carrots, more spices, lots more pepper -- and have reduced the amount of tomatoes and corn. At this point, I guess you could say it's pretty much my own creation, since it's fairly far removed from the original recipe Lisa gave me.

Black Bean Soup
olive oil -- enough to cover bottom of soup pot
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4-5 garlic cloves, minced (more or less to taste)
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
4 medium size carrots, peeled and chopped into rounds
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup frozen or one can of corn
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes in juice
32 oz (2 cans, one carton) vegetable broth
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
(I think I usually add more of the cayenne and black pepper, but I don't measure, plus, we like things spicy, so I tend to add more than not)

for garnishing:
chopped scallions
chopped cilantro
grated cheddar

Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, bell pepper, carrot, cumin, oregano, and salt. Saute over medium heat until onions start to caramelize and brown and carrots are soft, about 10 mins.

Add all other ingredients, bring to a boil, and let simmer until hot. Adjust spices to taste, adding more if desired.

Serve hot, and top with scallions, cilantro, and cheese.

Now, I'll confess that I got the cornbread recipe from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, although I did make two modifications, noted below. It was a hit the other night: crumbly, slightly sweet, very corn-y. We ate almost the whole pan at dinner. (Yep, we're pigs.)

Basic Corn Bread, page 646, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
2 T butter
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose or whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 t baking powder
2 eggs (this is where I changed -- I don't like eggy cornbread, so I only used one egg and it turned out great)
1/4 cup butter, melted
2-4 t honey (I wanted to give some to Elanor, so I used 1 T raw sugar instead)
1 c milk

Preheat the oven to 425. Put the butter in an 8-inch square baking pan and set in the oven while it's heating. Meanwhile, stir the dry ingredients together and make a well in the center of the bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. As soon as the oven is hot, remove the pan and brush the butter around the edges. [note: don't be a dumbass like me and leave it in there for any longer, because I forgot to take it out and let the butter burn, and then had to start this step over] Pour any excess into the wet ingredients. Quickly mix the wet and dry ingredients together, then pour the batter into the pan and bake in the middle of the oven until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Enjoy! If you make either recipe, let me know how you like it!


Kristin said...

This is awesome! I can't wait to try it!

Xin Lei said...

This sounds like the perfect new recips for me to try...THANK YOU FOR RESCUEING OUR WEEKLY MENU! I know you must be a big fan of "The Enchanted Broccoli Forest"...I still need to buy a copy...I love the recipes in it!

Kim said...

we need to cook/bake together someday!!!


Kristin said...

I made this recipe and my boyfriend went crazy over it. I almost followed it to a "T", but put a little garlic powder, chili powder, and liquid smoke. TOO DIE FOR! Thanks for posting!