2.11.2017

The 1970s, Revisited

Several weekends ago, we had a cold, rainy spell - the leftovers from a Pacific storm that swept California.

Mark and I were at Trader Joe's that Friday evening planning all the meals for the three-day weekend so we wouldn't have to leave the house - or get out of our pajamas - if we didn't want to.

Walking up and down the aisles we discussed every meal and it's menu. We were down to planning one final meal when, standing next to the canned beans, Mark asked, "What can we do with chickpeas?" Looking behind me toward the beans, I missed the chickpeas and my eyes settled on the black beans.

I took a quick mental trip to my freezer and back. I had some beautiful pork sausages from the farmers market, as well as shallots and carrots in the fridge. I felt a black bean and sausage soup coming on.

I haven't had black bean soup in over 20 years. When I met Mark he ate no legumes other than frozen peas.

For me, there was no eating black bean soup outside the home, because most everyone adds a ton of garlic to their black beans soup. 

In the past few years, Mark has discovered the wonders of legumes, so when I mentioned my idea, he got very excited. We added some Greek yogurt and cilantro (for garnishes) to our market basket, and we were on our way.

Making this soup took me back to my music conservatory days in the 1970s, when I would make all variety of bean soups because they were inexpensive, flavorful, filling, and quite healthy. Like many college students, I dabbled in vegetarianism - sadly, not for virtuous reasons of saving the planet, or for the animals, but out of self-defense. College cafeteria food was scary. What was that mystery meat we were served on a regular basis?

Me in my conservatory days... ah, the wasted waistlines of youth!
The black bean soup of my college days was vegetarian, I am sure. What music student can afford meat? Today's recipe can easily be made vegetarian by using veggie broth and leaving out the sausage. Go one step further and leave off the yogurt to make it vegan/dairy-free.

As the soup simmered on the stove, the aromas filled the house and I was awash with memories from that earlier time. The simplicity of my college days came back, and I had a momentary wish to be young again. Then I came to my senses and remembered that being young was hard, and college was a lot of work; I enjoy being old. It’s better to be young at heart.

In the end, I don't need to be a young, starving, miserable, emotionally-incapacitated student-musician to enjoy black bean soup. Everything has worked out exactly the way it should, and happiness and black bean soup are mine, simultaneously.

~ David

Black Bean and Sausage Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 links best-quality sausage (I used pork brats frm Starbar Ranch), cut in slices *
3 shallots, peeled and diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried oregano)
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
3 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 cups broth (I used beef, but chicken or veggie is fine)
nonfat Greek yoghurt, for garnish
4 tablespoons grated hard sheep's cheese
4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

     * I find sausage easiest to slice when they are still mostly frozen.

Put the oil in a 4-quart soup pot over medium-high heat. Sauté the sausage slices until browned on both sides. Remove them from the pot and place them on a plate. If you wish to have smaller pieces in your soup, quarter the slices.

Add chopped shallots and carrot to the pot and sauté in the sausage pan drippings. When soft, add the oregano, chipotle, cumin, and coriander; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the drained and rinsed beans and tomato paste; stir well and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, purée most of the soup leaving about a quarter of the beans whole. Add the sausage back to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes longer.

Serve with a dollop of yoghurt; sprinkle each serving with the cheese and cilantro.

Serves 4 as a hearty main course.


30 comments:

  1. Love this post, David! Nice to see an old pic of you, too! I have frozen black beans in my freezer and honestly didn't know what to do with them! I think I will try this soup without the sausages, but maybe with beef bouillon and will skip the cilantro (eek!) ;) I'm one of "those" people. Haha! Thanks for another great recipe. Have a lovely weekend!

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    1. I'm so glad you made the soup, Christina! Avocados are perfect with it! I know lots of people who don't eat cilantro.

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    2. It was fabulous and everyone loved it! I know I let you know on Facebook, but adding it here so others know it was wonderful!!

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    3. Thanks fro saying so here, Christina! I am always so honored when someone makes a recipe, especially when they are so busy blogging themselves!

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  2. Oh, look at you! Love it. Those measuring spoons are gorgeous, all of them, but my favourites are the blue ones. And this soup, yummo. Thanks for a great recipe. Comforting indeed.

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    1. I think I need a 12-step program in regards to the number of measuring spoons and cups I own/crave. I love the blue ones, too, Liz.

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  3. This soup looks delicious. My kind of food! Nothing is more satisfying than black beans and I haven't put them in a soup before. Very cool pic :)

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    1. Thanks, Jem! Have you grown black beans in your garden? Thanks for stopping by and saying hello!

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  4. Tasty & comforting looking soup, yum! The chopped carrots look so bright & beautiful. Love coriander. Another great recipe for us to try. Thank you. :)

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    1. Thanks, Ngeun! Sometimes I find the vegetables are the most beautiful part of any meal!

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  5. Hi David, forgot how much I love back bean soup, looks delicious. Young at heart is good. My husband and I had to chuckle at the pic that you so aptly named "the wasted waistlines of youth"! Those were the days.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed that old shot of me - those were the days!

      I had pretty much forgotten about black bean soup, as well... it is so good!

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  6. You know I never thought about it before, but both the black bean soups I regularly make (black bean red pepper and black bean poblano) have at least 3 cloves garlic in each one. I don't consider them garlicky, but when I look at the recipes. There the garlic is. This beautiful version proves that garlic isn't essential. GREG

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    1. You know, Greg, sometimes I can't tell if there is garlic in a dish until it is too late. Like you said, it may not seem garlicky, but there it is. It's funny, I feel like I spend lots of time convincing people that garlic isn't necessary to make food good... but so many people think that no garlic is a fate worse than death. For me, however, garlic = death! :)

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  7. Oh my goodness! This brought back an old memory of black bean soup for me, too. It was in 1980 as I remember it. I made black bean soup because were trying to eat less meat. I did not put any sausage in mine if remember correctly. I set a delicious looking bowl of black bean soup down in front of my dear 9 year old son, David. (he probably had never had it before) He took one look and burst into tears, saying, "Oh no CHOCOLATE SOUP!" I am laughing a lot while I write this and his papa and sister are, too. I love to tell him silly stories about when he was little. My other son and daughter like to hear stories about them, too. Thanks for the memory nudge.
    I do make lots of vegan soups now, since we are eating only plants. Soups are the best!

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    1. What a fun story, Caterina! And what funny reaction. If my mother had served me chocolate soup, I would have been thrilled!

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  8. What a great glimpse into the past! I have to say I have never had black bean soup...sounds like I'm missing out.

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    1. Caroline - you know, I never saw any black beans in the UK. I am sure you can get them, right? If you can only get them dried, let me know, as I have another soup recipe that calls for dried beans.

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  9. This looks so good, especially on a snowy day like this one! I love your ability to create meals from so little! I LOVE the photo of you!

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  10. Love the old picture. Now I'm wondering if there are any of me lying around... I love bean soup and think that your sausage is a great add. I keep waiting for a good ham bone which doesn't come around enough.

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    1. It's so funny that you should mention the ham bone, Inger - I was looking for one yesterday to make a friend's version of black bean soup starting from dried beans. The butcher said he will have them today. Have fun looking for old photos!

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  11. David, I love the picture -- nothing more photogenic than a musician and a stand-up bass! I have been craving black bean soup for the last two weeks (but ultimately went with navy bean - not the same thing at all - because I've already posted black bean soup twice, I think). Like you, I can't order it out because of the garlic. This looks smashing! I'm glad Mark eventually came to his senses about legumes! :D

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    1. Jean - I thought people would be amused by the photo of me and Francesca (my bass...).

      I am making another version of black bean soup this weekend - from dried beans this time. I love it, and am glad Mark does, too. Wish we loved closer - I would gladly share some of my GF bean soup with you!

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  12. This reminds me of a Cuban black bean soup/dish/thing I made before we left home, something I really loved. Comfort food that fills the stomach and doesn't cost a bomb to make. I adore the photo of you and the bass!

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    1. That is funny, John - I actually used fresh Cuban oregano in this soup but, as I don't know too many people with access to Cuban oregano, I opted simply to say "fresh oregano."

      The photo of me and the bass was my mother's favorite. The funny things i remember about it - I had just gotten the snow boots and they were an ungodly orange color. It looked like I was wearing pumpkins on my feet!

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  13. Legumes are on heavy rotation at our home. Like this recipe, especially love this post about the past and the present. I have been thinking about a lot of this having had to empty out our basement for building maintenance last weekend and finding a box full of letters and diaries from my student days... It was very nostalgic, but the truth is, in most ways I am in a better place now.

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    1. Fiona - I am so glad we are now a legume-happy household!

      It is sometimes hard to look back. When we moved to the desert, I let go of many of my journals, losing the written words, but keeping the memories. Every once in a while, I regret leaving them behind. I am glad I brought the photos, though!

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  14. Love this post, David. The soup sound delicious, but even better is the idea of you two planning all of your menus for a long cozy weekend at home. It sounds like a vacation. I love it!

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    1. Aren't there just those times where you four don't want to leave the house? Well, that might not happen with two young boys, but... :)

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