Normally I am not a box-of-this, can-of-that type of cook, but sometimes you hit upon a shortcut that is truly tasty and healthy. And this black bean soup is one of those shortcuts for when we want soup, but haven’t soaked any beans. I hope you enjoy this as much and Rick and I have. Serves 4-6.
1 box Fantastic Foods “Instant Black Bean” mix
[This is essentially refried beans that have been dehydrated. It comes with some spices already mixed in, so you can use it for dip, as a veggie filling for tostadas, etc. I found it in my local health-food oriented grocery store but some major chains are starting to carry the Fantastic Foods line now.]
1 medium onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
4-5 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3 scallions, thinly sliced (white parts and about 5 inches of green parts)
1 14oz. can diced tomatoes (fire-roasted preferred)
1 Tbsp. chile powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
4-6 cups hot water
salsa (smoked jalapeño is a nice match)
your favorite hot sauce
In a soup pot, saute the onions, garlic and carrot in the oil until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, scallions, chile powder and ground cumin, and cook for another minute. Next, pour in 4 cups of hot water, toss in the bay leaves, and sprinkle in the box of bean mix. Stir thoroughly so that the beans get completely rehydrated in the water (no clumps).
It will take about 8 minutes for the beans to soak up the water and start to thicken the soup. If it starts getting too thick, add a little more water. Taste the soup and add some salt if you wish. Continue cooking for at least 15 minutes over low heat, to give the flavors a chance to combine. Wait until just before serving before you add the cilantro; you don’t want to overcook the fresh herbs. Serve with any of the optional toppings and fresh cornbread.