Bean Soup

This soup is good for what ails you. It’s hearty, warming, a bit spicy and packed with legumes and vegetables. It’s also a breeze to make and could handle almost any modification that you could throw at it, so go ahead and get creative, tailor it to your own needs and whims. This version is vegetarian (if you don’t use chicken stock) and gets its depth of flavour from sundried tomatoes, dried mushrooms and the robust heat and flavour of chili powder. To keep things fresh, there’s a citrussy zing and the clean, bright chime of cilantro.  It has a South Western feel to it, but your own blend of spice and ingredients could take it in any other direction. Consider it the basis of any hearty bean soup and go from there. Enjoy!

Bean Soup

1 tablespoon of oil

1 sprig of fresh thyme

2 tablespoons minced sundried tomatoes

1 tablespoon re-hydrated, chopped porcini mushrooms and the water that they re-hydrated in

4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon of chili powder

1 small yam, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup)

1 young zucchini (courgette), not peeled but chopped  (about 1 cup)

2 large carrots, not peeled but chopped (about 1 cup)

2 cans of beans (I used black beans and white kidney beans) or if you are soaking your own, about 2 cups of dry beans in total

8 cups (2 litres) chicken or vegetable stock or water (or a combination)

Juice of 1/2 a lemon or 1 limes

a handful of chopped cilantro (parsley works well too but the cilantro goes nicely with the chili flavour)

salt and pepper to taste

Rehydrate the porcini mushrooms in a bit of hot water. Once they are plumped, chop them up and reserve the liquid they plumped in – it is packed with flavour!

In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the aromatics: the onion, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms and mushroom juice, garlic, salt and pepper and chili powder. Cook, stirring regularly until the onions become clear. Add in the vegetables and cook until they begin to soften, stirring regularly, about 10 minutes. Add the beans and stock. Cook, uncovered, at a simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. The soup will reduce slightly and thicken as the beans cook.

Using a potato masher or wooden spoon, press the vegetables and beans until about half the ingredients are mashed, thickening the broth. If you want a thicker, smoother soup, use an immersion blender to puree it or transfer the soup carefully to a blender or food processor.

Before serving add cilantro and citrus juice. Garnish with sour cream or yogurt if desired.

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