As luck would have it, our heat went out in our apartment in the dead of winter during a blizzard because when else does your heat go out? Not that the heat going out is the worst thing in the world. You get out the blankets and tea kettles and make it work.
The other thing I highly recommend is soup. Not only is soup healthy, but there’s really nothing that warms the body like a good bowl of soup.
I’ve been itching to make a bean soup for awhile although I didn’t really want to do the standard black bean variety. So after some searching I found this awesome kidney bean soup recipe. Topped with some guacamole and tortilla chips, it’s a great meal for a no heat situation!
I followed my normal rule for soups on this recipe, which is to double it and I ended up with enough kidney bean soup to feed Betsy and I until we have children (far in the future). So maybe there’s no need to double this one unless you are a family of at least four, unless you have a lot of spare empty containers and freezer space.
1) Go over dry beans and sort out any debris. Soak dried beans overnight in 3 cups of cold water per cup of beans.
2) Drain beans and add them to a pot with water that covers the beans by a few inches. Bring to a simmer for an hour and skim of any foam that forms.
3) Let your beans cool a bit and strain them. Feel free to save some of the bean water for the soup.
4) To make soup, add oil to a large heavy pan and once it's hot, add onions over medium heat. Cook for about 15 minutes until they are soft. Then add pepper and garlic and cook for another minute.
5) Next stir in all the spices followed by the beans, tomatoes, and tomato paste.
6) Add liquid to the pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes, covered.
7) Use a blender (Emersion works best) to puree the soup to a almost smooth consistency.
8) Serve soup with guacamole topping.
Adapted from Best-Ever Soups.
Preparing the beans
The original recipe actually called for canned beans, but I figured dried would be better. The important thing to remember about dried beans, especially if you buy them in bulk, is to lay them out on a flat surface and go through them.
I found three actual rocks in this batch. They were small, but I don’t think any amount of cooking would’ve softened them up.
Soak the dried beans overnight in cold water using about 3 cups of water per cup of beans. The water should definitely cover the beans as they will soak up a lot of water throughout the night.
When you’re ready to cook them, drain the beans and rinse them. Then add them to a large pot and cover the beans with fresh water until the water is about 1 to 2 inches above the beans.
Bring them to a bowl and then let them simmer for about an hour to an hour and a half or until they are tender. If a lot of foam forms on the top, just skim it off with a spoon.
Beans never looked this good:
The other ingredients for kidney bean soup are pretty simple. Some onions, garlic, a pepper or two and loads of spices.
Once your beans are cooked, let them cool a bit and then strain them. Feel free to reserve the cooking water if you want to use that in your soup. I used a crazy mixture of about 1/3 homemade chicken stock, 1/3 bean cooking water, and 1/3 fresh water.
Starting the Kidney Bean Soup
There a lot of onions in this soup and we need to soften them up. Start by adding your oil to a large heavy pan and once it’s hot, add all your onions. Stir regularly until they soften and cook down. You don’t want to caramelize them, but just soften them. I’d say about 15 minutes should do the trick. Then add your pepper and garlic and cook for another minute.
Then add all your spices at once! Stir it well to combine. The onions will take on an amazing red color mainly due to the paprika.
Next add your beans, chopped tomatoes, and tomato paste to the party and stir well to combine. Let these cook just for a minute or two.
Simmering the Kidney Bean Soup
Once your beans are combined, add all your liquid to the pot, stir, and bring it to a simmer. Simmer the soup, covered, for about 30 minutes and then remove it from the heat.
I guess theoretically you could serve it like this and it would be more of a bean stew than a legit soup. I think it’s a good idea to blend it up with your blender of choice. If you’re using a stand blender, just be sure to cool your soup a bit or you’ll have hot soup flying all over the place.
Or, if you have one, you can use my new best friend the emersion blender.
After it’s smooth, return it to the heat and let it simmer for another minute or two just to warm up and get all the flavors combined. Taste it for salt and pepper and serve it up!
The recipe called for a quick guacamole to use as a topping. It was great with the soup.
Betsy and I learned the really good way to eat this was to sprinkle on some tortilla chips. They add a great crunch to the soup.
The soup itself is spicy but not crazy spicy. Just a nice gentle heat. But it does have tons of flavor from the cumin and veggies and everything.
Besides the well-documented social problems associated with eating a large bowl of pureed beans, there’s really nothing bad about this soup.