spicy black bean and rice soup

Spicy Vegan Black Bean and Rice Soup

On a whim, I cooked up some dried black beans because I wanted to try out the Lazy Cook’s Black Beans technique described on Serious Eats. I didn’t use the fresh garlic, onion, or orange, just some granulated garlic and onion powder from my spice rack. Even without the aromatics, I have to say I really loved how the beans tasted after cooking, especially with the “gravy” that’s left. They’re much more flavorful than when I soak them overnight and simmer, then drain. I was so impressed that I’d like to actually try their full recipe at some point!

I also made brown rice using my favorite technique: in the oven. I had a vague sense of wanting to make a plate of simple rice and beans, but my mind wandered from that thought. I made up a bowl of beans, rice (made with cilantro and lime), corn, cheese, and taco sauce…a makeshift Chipotle-style burrito bowl. And it was OK, but I was looking for something more interesting.

So I explored the idea of making a soup. I love to have broth-based soups around because they’re filling but not heavy. I wanted to include black beans, rice, onion, cilantro, and lime for sure. And, oh yeah, chipotle powder! I found a recipe that got me in the ballpark, then adapted it for my kitchen from there.

And my expectations were completely blown away. I think it’s the fresh lime juice that puts this soup over the top. It looks very unassuming in the bowl, but tastes incredible. I’ve been having it with a baked potato on the side, but it would be really good with corn bread.

spicy black bean and rice soup

Spicy Vegan Black Bean and Rice Soup

Inspired by Slow Cooker Vegetarian Black Bean and Rice Soup with Lime and Cilantro

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 c water
  • 1-2 tsp Better than Bouillon Vegetable Base
  • 14.5 oz can whole tomatoes, lightly pureed
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 10 oz cooked black beans (or a bit more or less is fine)
  • 1/2 c cooked brown rice
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 c chopped cilantro

Instructions

  1. Mix granulated garlic, cumin, oregano, chipotle powder, and paprika in a small bowl and set aside. Make a broth by heating the water a couple of minutes in the microwave, then stirring in the vegetable base until it dissolves. Set aside.
  2. In a Dutch oven or other heavy pot, saute the onion in oil over medium heat until softened. Stir in the spice mixture.
  3. Stir in broth, tomatoes, tomato paste, and beans. Add salt to taste. Simmer for 15 min.
  4. Add cooked rice, simmer 10 min.
  5. Stir in lime juice and cilantro, and simmer 5 min.

The soup is delicious as is, but is also good with some shredded cheese on top.

Bean and Cabbage Stew

Good cabbage prices means it was my go-to green veggie recently. Most of what I bought went into Asian-style dishes. But with a remaining half sitting in the produce bin, I wanted to make a veggie-packed stew with it as a change of pace. Having a hearty vegetarian stew in the freezer is awesome for those days when I haven’t gotten enough veggies with my meals. It’s an easy way to get a bunch at once.

I pulled together this stew, inspired by another one I love, and paired it with a piece of toasted Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread spread with butter. Simple, and delicious!

Bean and Cabbage Stew

Makes 6-8 bowls

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cabbage, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1 medium brown onion, diced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2/3 c leftover red wine (I used cabernet sauvignon)
  • 14.5 oz can tomatoes, pureed
  • 2 c vegetable broth OR 2 c water, heated to boiling + 2 tsp vegetable bouillon base (I used Better Than Bouillon)
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • caraway seeds

Directions

  1. In a Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat and saute carrots and onion for about 15 minutes, until they’re softened.
  2. In a separate chef’s or frying pan, saute cabbage in canola oil over medium-high heat. Stir often to prevent sticking, but letting it get browned helps develop good flavor. Add a splash of water if needed.
  3. Once the carrots and onions are ready, add wine and reduce until thick. Add garlic, paprika, thyme, freshly ground pepper and salt (to taste). Stir in tomatoes, broth, and beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
  4. Stir in cabbage and heat for 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar.
  5. Sprinkle in caraway seeds if desired.

Bean and Kale Vegetable Stew

Often when returning from a trip somewhere, I go a little nuts stocking up on produce at the grocery store. Traveling is often light on fruits and veggies, and being back in control of my kitchen gets me excited to cook up a storm.

So this week when I started to feel like I was pressing my luck with the zucchini and kale in the veggie drawer, I pulled together this Bean and Kale Vegetable Stew, adapted from Smitten Kitchen recipe I like quite a bit. Actually one of my favorite things about that recipe is how adaptable it is to whatever I have on hand. The first time I made it was the first time I had added wine to soup or stew, and it was a revelation.

Recipe

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Chard and White Bean Stew

Process notes

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 15 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 14.5 oz can whole tomatoes, pureed
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium brown onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 c red wine
  • 2 c vegetable broth (made from Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base) + 1 c water
  • 1 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced about 1/2 in. thick
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Cook kale in a pot of salted boiling water for 1 min., then drain and set aside.

Saute carrots, onion, and garlic in olive oil for about 15 min. Add wine and cook until it’s reduced by 3/4. Add beans, broth, tomatoes, salt and pepper, and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 min. Add kale and zucchini and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in vinegar and season to taste.

Results

I don’t typically get excited about non-cream-based soups or stews, but this one really hits the spot. The darker take on the original recipe (the red wine, kidney beans, kale) is hearty and complex. I especially like it with a little grated parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil on top.

This stew is perfect on days that I haven’t eaten enough veggies, because it’s a whole bunch packed into one bowl.

And now I have an open bottle of red wine in the refrigerator, ready for another dish…perhaps a tomato pasta sauce of some kind.

Easy lentil soup with carrots, celery, and tomato

Easy Lentil Soup with Carrots, Celery, and Tomato

One of my big grocery store weaknesses is the bulk section at Winco. (The other big one is cheese.) So with some impulse-buy French green lentils in my pantry, I needed to figure out what to make with…French green lentils. I also wanted to use up some diced carrot and celery, making this Easy Lentil Soup recipe sound like a great fit.

I made a few substitutions based on what I had on hand and came up with a slightly revised version. Which was surprisingly hearty and full of flavor considering the simplicity of the ingredients. As soon as I finished my bowl I was already looking forward to next-day leftovers. And the lentils came out really nice — firm and pleasant, not mushy or bland.

A bowl of easy lentil soup with carrots, celery, and tomato

Easy Lentil Soup with Carrots, Celery, and Tomato

Adapted from Easy Lentil Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium celery stalk, small dice
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and small dice
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried minced onion
  • 1 tsp dried minced garlic
  • fine sea salt
  • black pepper
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp vegetable broth mix
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes with their juices
  • 1 1/4 cups French green lentils, rinsed
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • splash of balsamic vinegar

Instructions

  1. Stir the vegetable broth mix into the water and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the celery, carrot, and dried onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the dried garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Season with several generous pinches of salt and pepper.
  3. Stir in the seasoned water, tomatoes with their juices, lentils, and thyme. Cover and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce the heat to low and continue simmering, covered, until the lentils and vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes.
  4. Taste and season with more salt or pepper as needed, then stir in the vinegar. Purée half of the soup in a blender, then stir it back into the rest of the soup.

Tomato bread soup

Tomato Bread Soup (Pappa al Pomodoro)

With all of the bread baking I did last week, I wanted to find interesting ways to use some of it. Both loaves were too tough for me to eat as regular sandwiches (but the 100% Whole Wheat Sourdough Hearth Bread made wonderful tartine-style sandwiches grilled in the skillet with pesto and sharp white cheddar on top).

I ran across this Tomato Bread Soup recipe, and since it’s gotten chilly here over the last few days, it’s perfect timing for some warm soup that’s somehow both hearty and light at the same time.

I’ve made tomato bread soup before but it was quite bland compared to this batch. Using fresh basil basil made it delicious. And sauteeing the bread cubes (made from my 100% Whole Wheat Sourdough Hearth Bread and 2.5-lb Miche) in olive oil with some of the fresh basil and a bit of pepper was a key step to the process. I’m tempted to make a bunch of croutons from the rest of the Miche — I could not get over how good they tasted.

For such a basic-sounding soup, this was surprisingly full of flavor. I had read not to use sourdough bread in a soup like this, but I’m glad I didn’t listen to that advice — this was so good. I just wish I had made twice as much!

Tomato Bread Soup (Pappa al Pomodoro)

Adapted from Mary Ann Esposito’s Tomato Bread Soup (Pappa al Pomodoro)

Makes 2 generous bowls.

Ingredients

  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 6-8 tbls olive oil, divided
  • 1 white/brown onion, diced
  • 6-8 basil leaves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (I used 1 1/2 tsp of this mix + 1 1/2 cups water)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups cubed bread (I used homemade whole wheat sourdough bread)

Instructions

  1. Puree the diced tomatoes (include the liquid in the can) until smooth. Strain out the seeds and pulp using a spoon or spatula and mesh strainer. Discard the seeds and pulp and set the liquid aside to add to the soup.
  2. In a medium sauce pan or Dutch oven, saute the onion in half of the olive oil over medium heat until softened.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the rest of the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and half of basil to the skillet and toss around to coat. Cook until the bread starts to get lightly browned, stirring often. Add some black pepper to taste.
  4. Add the rest of the basil to the onion and stir, continuing to cook (5-10 minutes total).
  5. Once the bread cubes are done, remove them from the pan and set on paper-towel lined tray to drain any excess oil off.
  6. Stir in the broth, tomato juice, and salt and pepper to taste. My vegetable broth mix already has salt in it, so I didn’t need additional salt. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  7. Remove soup from heat and stir in bread cubes. Cover pan and let sit for about 5 minutes. Serve, topped with some shredded Parmesan if desired.