Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Clean Eating "Bite You Back" Black Bean and Brown Rice Soup

Market days always give me inspiration to get in the kitchen. There is something about gathering fresh ingredients that makes me feel like I am doing my best to nourish my family. I think about the verses in Proverbs 31:14-15 which say,
"She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants."
My children may argue that they are the servants :-).  Though most of the items at the market are not from far off, it does take some effort to go out of the way each week, but it is well worth it.
While I love to cook, I don't like to be pinned down to an exact recipe, simply because I like to work with what is on hand. If you do not have these exact ingredients, don't fret, just allow this to give you a little inspiration and make your tummy rumble...
This is where I began:
12 oz. pk. of dried Black Beans (soak overnight) ~ or begin with 3 16oz cans of black beans, rinsed
1 can of Rotel tomatoes
1 cup of brown rice
4 carrots
2 celery ribs
1 onion
1 red pepper
5 garlic cloves
1 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil
4 green onions
1 tsp. coarse sea salt
2 shakes of black pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2/3 tsp. cumin
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 cup fresh oregano or 1 tsp. dried
You will add water to this recipe as you go along
If you have never used dried beans before, know that black beans are one of the more hard beans when they are dried. They need to be soaked overnight. In the morning, drain and rinse them thoroughly. Then put them in a stock pot with enough water to cover them about 2 inches deep in the pot. Place a lid on it, bring it to a boil, and then allow it to simmer for at least 1 1/2 hours. This can also be done in a crock pot, beginning on high until it is boiling, and then reduce to low for at least 2 hours.
*** Know that this recipe will work easily with 3 16oz cans of black beans, drained and rinsed. The dried beans are more economical, and have no added sodium, but feel free to do what works for you.
This recipe does not use premade vegetable stock, so we are going to make some of our own. Begin by chopping the onions, carrots, celery and red pepper.
In a skillet, or shallow sauce pan, place the cumin, crushed red pepper, tomato paste, olive oil, and use a garlic press for the garlic cloves. Turn the heat to just under medium. As the pan warms, you will begin to smell the cumin. Stir the cumin and the red pepper around to completely toast (it only takes about 30 seconds once the pan is warm. Begin to stir all of the ingredients together. The tomato paste will become more rich in flavor with the heat and the garlic will soften. Work this around for just 1 minute and incorporate 1/2 cup water. This is the base for which you will sauté the vegetables in. Go ahead and add the chopped veggies and turn the heat up slightly above medium. Allow this to cook for about 5 minutes or more. If it becomes too thick, add water by 1/2 cup increments just so that the mixture looks about like this:
It doesn't look like much, but I could eat these by themselves. They are so full of flavor! Check for tenderness. You should be able to easily bite into the carrots.

Now we are going to do the "hidden veggie" thing...

Do you have a Ninja? This is my kitchen workhorse! I use it to make smoothies, puree veggies for soup, or to hide ingredients that unsuspecting eyes may pick out if it were staring at them in the face.
I really like this particular model because in addition to the 72oz pitcher, it has the single serve blenders work well for making on-the-go smoothies, as well as the processer bowl and blade set, which is perfect for making salsa in! The instructions say that the processor bowl can be used to make dough as well (can you say pizza night?)
Ok, where was I? Right, first put the fresh oregano in (if you have dried, you may add it directly to the pot of beans). Pour the sautéed vegetables into the Ninja and puree until there are no visible chunks.

Before you add the veggies, go ahead and add the Rotel tomatoes and the sea salt. If you have begun with canned beans, you may want to scale back on the salt, as there will be some in the beans already.
Add the veggies and as much water as you need to make the soup stir easily and to your desired thickness. Simmer on medium low.

Now on to the brown rice...
Brown rice is becoming a regular household item, but I find some folks are still having difficulty cooking it. I have been using this Martha Stewart method for the last few years and it comes out great. The key is to leave the lid on (no peaking!) and just allow it to do it's thing. While your black bean soup is simmering, go ahead and cook up 1 cup (dry) brown rice, and when it is done, the soup should be perfect as well.
This is what you should have when it is all done... yummy goodness..
I added the rice directly into the soup and turned the heat off.
You may choose to keep your brown rice separate.

You can chop the green onions, adding the white/core section of the onions directly to the soup and using the green tops to garnish.

 I added a spoonful of plain Greek yogurt to compliment the spicy heat and to add some protein to this flavorful rendition of Black Bean Soup. The crushed red pepper steps things up a notch and makes this a festive bowl-full.
Beans and brown rice are both great sources of fiber and when they are combined, they give you a great complimentary source of protein. Eating whole foods is the way to go!
 "I love you once, I love you twice, I love you more than beans and rice"

Recipe By Tasha Brickhouse

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