Giving My Beans Some Lovin’

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It’s no secret. I love beans. All you have to do is look at my dried bean stash and the containers of bean-containing soup in my freezer to know that. And what’s not to like about beans? They’re versatile, healthy, easy to cook, and relatively inexpensive.

To digress a bit. I’ve noticed that some packages of dried beans are less expensive in the ethnic section of the store than they are in the regular “bean section.” At one of my markets, I’ve found I can save about 20 cents if I buy a 1-pound package of pinto beans, for example, in the ethnic section.

Anyway, as I was digging through the freezer the other day, I noticed I seemed to be playing favorites in my bean selection. Don’t get me wrong; though I have bags of several varieties of beans, I seem to keep grabbing the same kind over and over again. My bean of choice? Great Northern. This is a good, versatile bean that lends itself to a variety of flavor profiles. They make a great soup. And you can mash up cooked ones, add a few things, and end up with a tasty spread. Told you it was versatile.

I also have a couple containers of 3 bean soup, using light red kidney beans, pinto beans, and Great Northern. But I didn’t find any containers of soup using black beans. I like black beans, but for some reason, I seldom use them. Actually, I think about the only time I use them is when I add them to chili. (Yes, I’m one of them–I put beans in my chili.) I immediately decided I needed to give them some love.

My first inclination was to make a taco-type soup. But that would have required going outside, and well, it was cold out. I was also busy with editing, so I wanted something quick to put together and that I wouldn’t have to pay much attention to. Let me tell you, a slow cooker should be in everyone’s kitchen. Seriously. Of course the soup can be made on the stovetop, but then I would have had to pay attention to it.

Fortunately, I had this bean insight early in the morning, so I could soak the beans. I’ve discussed the benefits of soaking beans before, but in brief, soaking them make them more digestible.

Black bean and corn soup with homemade bread

Black bean and corn soup with homemade bread

Some of the ingredients seemed obvious. I drained and poured the beans into the slow cooker. I added chopped onions; no, I didn’t sweat them first. Into the pot went cumin and pepper. Normally I would have added some diced canned tomatoes, but I didn’t have any. But I did have tomatoes I dehydrated last season, so in they went. Then pour in enough stock to cover beans and friends by 2 inches.

I let the beans cook for about 4 hours on low. Keep in mind that not all slow cookers are created alike, so yours make cook faster or slower. The goal is to kick until almost tender. Then I added frozen corn kernels. If you have fresh, that’s great. If not, frozen is perfectly fine. Just don’t use commercially canned ones.

After another 30-45 minutes, the soup was ready to eat. Well almost. I added some hot sauce to my bowl, but that’s just me. This is one of those soups where, after the first taste, I have to ask myself, “Why don’t I make this more often?” Especially with homemade bread. This soup calls for a hearty, rustic bread.

You will notice I did not add salt. I found it really didn’t need it. Of course if you think it does, add to taste. Other vegetables can be added, as can salsa. Top it with some kimchi or sour cream. Make it yourself. It can be anything you want it to be.

Here’s my recipe for this version of Black Bean and Corn Soup.


© Copyright 2014 Ida Walker, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Enabling Cook
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