Continuing my search for eating healthy and yet delicious foods, I made this Black Bean and Vegetable Soup. I combined elements from three different kinds of soups: the regular Black Bean Soup, the Indian style Daal (lentil) and a Mexican Tortilla Soup and the results were out of this world! I cooked the Black beans over low heat for an hour and a half (you can also use a slow cooker/crockpot) and when they were softened, I added the vegetables and the homemade vegetable broth to the beans and cooked them for another half an hour. When the soup was most of the way done (the beans and veggies were softened to mush), I used an immersion blender to partially blend the beans and the vegetables. I wanted to get the consistency of a thick black beans soup but not make it too pasty…the texture had to be right!. To this soup I added the Indian style Tadka (it’s the technique used in Indian cuisine to temper cooked lentils or any soupy dish with hot oil containing cumin, chopped ginger and chopped shallots) and at the very end when the soup was ready to be served, I added some fat free Greek Yogurt to add some creaminess (similar to adding sour cream to the Mexican Tortilla soup) and some freshly chopped Avocado (also an element borrowed from Mexican cuisine). I know the combination of all these cuisines sounds a bit crazy but there is a method to my madness…Indian and Mexican cuisines have a lot in common (eg. freshly made flat breads are used in both, the use of spices such as red chili powder, cumin, coriander and cinnamon in most savory dishes) and blending the two yields some surprisingly amazing results. Try this soup out and you will be convinced!
1. 1 cup black beans
2. 4 cups of vegetable broth
3. 8-10 cherry tomatoes
4. 3-4 fresh carrots
5. One ear of fresh corn
6. One small zucchini
7. Half a bell pepper (I used an orange colored one)
8. Salt to taste
9. ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes
10. Fresh ginger root (about an inch long)
11. One large shallot
12. The juice of one lemon
13. One tablespoon of honey
14. 2 tablespoons of olive oil
15. One Avocado
16. One mild Jalapeno chili or green chili for garnishing
17. 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1. Wash the beans under cold water and place them in a medium sized sauce pan with 4 cups of water and let them cook over low to medium heat for about 90 minutes. Check on the beans after every 15 minutes or so and if the water seems to be drying out, add some more water and stir and let them continue to cook until they are about ¾ of the way done.
4. Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender) – give the contents of the sauce pan a rough grind. Do not grind everything to a paste – just give it a rough grind so that soup retains some texture. Continue to cook over low heat.
6. Add the honey, salt and red pepper flakes to the soup. Taste it soup and adjust it according to your own preference.
11. When the ginger pieces get cooked for about 30 seconds, add the diced shallot to the hot oil and stir. Let this pan continue to sit on top of the stove at low heat for 1-2 minutes and keep stirring the contents.
12. When the shallot pieces begin to get golden brown, pour the hot oil mixture over the soup and stir.
13. Peel and dice an avocado.
14. To serve the soup, pour it while it is piping hot into the serving bowl. Sprinkle a little bit more of olive oil on top and squeeze the juice of one lemon on top. Garnish with the Greek yogurt on one side, some chopped green chili pieces and a freshly cut diced Avocado. I also add some chopped grape tomatoes, to give the dish some added color. Enjoy!!!