Sunday, March 21, 2010

Happy birthday to me!

My very first day to post in my shiny new blog about eating vegan, and, um, I didn't. Eat entirely vegan, that is. Most of it was, and I'm pretty proud of that, since it was my birthday after all. Jeesh! Next year, just wait. I'm already planning my sugar rush from vegan cupcakes.

Meanwhile, I think we may be eating the black bean soup I made yesterday for the next 365 days since it's just a 2.5-year old (who isn't exactly impressed with my soup), an 8-month old (I keep hearing that line from Mr. Mom, "Are you crazy? You don't feed a baby chili!"), and me around here this week. Good thing I love this soup.

So, no, today wasn't perfect, but it did mark 2 full weeks of eating vegan for me. Two weeks completed in the 4-month trial run I've promised myself. Or a fortnight as the English would say. I like that better. It sounds longer than 2 weeks. I've been vegan for an entire fortnight!!

Birthday breakfast
Nutella and strawberry stuffed french toast
coffee with cream and sugar
fresh OJ

grande soy cinnamon dolce latte

black bean soup from Veganomicon
light rye bread from the bread machine with Earth Balance

Recipe from Veganomicon
Black Bean-Vegetable Soup
Serves 6 to 8

Time 1 hour 45 minutes (not including soaking beans)

Like that little black dress, a good black bean soup can really take you places and fit any occasion. To make sure that the beans' deep, purple-black color stays true, we first completely cook the beans solo and then add the accompanying sauteed veggies afterward for a long, final simmer.

1 pound dried black beans, rinsed, soaked for 6 to 8 hours or overnight
6 cups water
2 bay leaves
Pinch of baking soda

3 tbs. olive oil
2 medium-size onions, diced finely
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced finely
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (I left this out)
1 stalk celery, diced finely
1 carrot, peeled and diced finely
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tbs. white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
2 tsp. salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
3-4 cups vegetable stock

For garnishing each serving:
lime wedges, chopped avocado, minced fresh cilantro

Prepare the beans: Drain the soaked beans, rinse again, and place the beans in a very large stockpot. Pour in the 6 cups of water and add the bay leaves and baking soda. Cover and bring to a boil, boil for about 3 minutes, and then lower the heat to medium-low. Allow to simmer for 1 to 1.5 hours, until the beans are very tender and their skins are soft. Remove the bay leaves.

During the last 30 minutes of the beans' cooking, prepare the vegetables: Preheat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Saute the garlic in the oil until the garlic begins to sizzle, stir for 30 seconds, and add the onions and bell pepper. Stir and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the onions and peppers are very soft, then add the jalapeno, celery, and carrot. Cook for another 10 minutes, until the carrot has begun to soften, then remove from the heat.

When the beans are completely tender, stir in the sauteed vegetables and any remaining oil, plus the cumin, oregano, thyme, and vegetable stock. Cover the pot, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low, partially cover the pot, and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes, until the carrot and celery are tender.

Remove from the heat, allow to cool 10 minutes, add the vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Like most soups, this soup will be richer and more flavorful the next day.

We've added enough total liquid to create plenty of broth in this recipe; if you like your black bean soup more stewlike, add only two or three cups of veggie broth toward the end. [Two cups is perfect for us.]

For a creamy-textured black bean soup, remove one or two cups of cooled soup and puree in a blender. Stir back into the soup and simmer for another 15 minutes. If you have leftover soup a few days down the road, try pureeing the whole thing and simmering until very hot. Season with a little more vinegar.

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