Winter this year somehow got away from me. I hadn’t gotten around to making our wintertime favorites – such as soups – as much as I had wanted. Spring seemed to come early, with unseasonably warm days. The orchards all around us began to bloom. Early bloom in crop country is a bad thing. Bees aren’t out buzzing about, which means no pollination, which means no crops. We live in an agricultural area. There are a lot of orchards nearby, mainly producing nut crops. Lots of walnuts and almond trees all around us. Our house sits on what was once a large almond farm. What isn’t orchard land is cattle land – mostly dairy farms.
Early blooming can be extremely stressful for trees, especially if temperatures are mild one day then plunge the next – as is the case this year. When this happens, new growth is shocked by the sudden freeze and could be damaged.
Fruit and flower buds are especially vulnerable. If they’re hit by cold temperatures after flowering, they may not be able to bloom again later in the year because they’ve already exerted their energy. As I sit on my back patio with my hands wrapped around a warm cup of cocoa, I cannot help but worry about this year’s crop and the toll it will take on my neighbors whose livelihood depends upon Mother Nature behaving as she should.
At least I can take comfort in knowing I haven’t completely missed soup weather.
While I haven’t made this soup in a while, it’s one of our favorites. I snagged it from one of those copy-cat sites. Gotta admit, it’s a darn good pot of soup. Kiddo and I like to garnish the soup with some chopped jalapeno for a little extra kick, but that’s purely a personal preference.
It’s a little messy to make – taking a pot, a blender and a crock pot, but there’s plenty of down time to clean up the kitchen. The soup is flavorful and filling. If you’ve got some left over; drain the liquid and smash the beans for some awesome black refried beans. These make a great filling for bean burritos. So it’s like getting two meals in one.
Hope you enjoy!
TGIF – Black Bean Soup
Ingredients – Soup
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup diced white onion
3/4 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
2 tablespoons minced garlic
4 (15 ounce) cans black beans
4 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon finely chopped Jalapeno
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon hickory liquid smoke
Ingredients – Garnish
1 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 Cup chopped green onion
1/2 Cup sour cream
Chop onions, celery and carrots. Set aside. Mince garlic. Set aside. Dice bell pepper, set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium/low heat.
Add onion, celery, carrot, bell pepper, and garlic to the oil and simmer slowly for 15 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Keep temperature low to prevent browning. If the garlic burns, it becomes bitter.
While the vegetables are simmering, pour the canned beans into a strainer and rinse them under cold water.
Measure 3 cups of the drained and strained beans into a food processor with 1 cup of chicken stock.
Puree on high-speed until smooth. (Make sure the lid is secure!!!)
When the vegetables are ready, pour in the pureed beans, the whole beans, the rest of the chicken stock, apple cider, spices and liquid smoke.
Bring mixture to a boil, then transfer to a crock pot and simmer on LOW for 2-3 hours.
Ladle soup into terrains, garnish with cheese, green onions and sour cream as desired.
This soup goes really well with warm corn bread. Perfect for a lazy evening’s supper.