Saturday, January 23, 2016

Black Bean Soup with (yep!) Honey and BONUS recipe-Mom's Salmon Chowder!

We skirted the blizzard hitting the east coast this weekend, and woke up to a beautiful (and thankfully small) blanket of snow outside.    A perfect day to spend making soup!

In addition to this nice Black Bean Soup with Toasted Orzo, I'm also including my Mom's recipe for Salmon Chowder, which she made for our regular get together on Monday.  My mom doesn't think of herself as much of a cook, but she is a masterful soup maker!  She has a wonderful recipe for tomato-y bean soup that we often request.  I'll try to remember to get the recipe and post it here.

This Black Bean Soup turned out a bit soupy, so I made some toasted orzo to soak up some of the soup.  The orzo was really (really!) good.  The soup would also be nice over rice, if you prefer.  And truth be told, you could just boil the orzo, too.

Black Bean Soup with Honey & Toasted Orzo
1 pound black beans, rinsed and checked for stones (or 4 15-oz cans black beans)
Olive oil to coat the bottom of the soup pot
2 medium or one large onion, chopped
3 ribs of celery, diced
2 carrots, scraped and cut into rounds
2 sweet red peppers (or 1 red and 1 green), diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 or 4 tablespoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (more or less)
6-8 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons cooking sherry or cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
salt and black pepper
Garnishes could include sour cream or yogurt, green onions, avocado, shredded cheddar cheese
(recipe for toasted orzo follows)

Prepare the beans:  Either soak them overnight if you're on top of things.  Or, if you're more like me, do a "quick" soak:  Place the beans in the soup pot and cover with water by about an inch.  Cover pot, bring to a boil and boil for two minutes.  Turn off heat and let stand for an hour.  The beans are then ready to go.  If you're using canned beans, then, of course, skip this part.  Drain and rinse the beans well and set them aside.

Coat the bottom of the soup pot with olive oil and turn on medium high. Add the onions, sprinkle with salt--about 1/4 teaspoon, stirring to coat, and cook for a few minutes.  Add the celery, carrots and peppers, and sprinkle with another 1/4 teaspoon (or so) of salt.  Stir well and cook for about another 5 or 10 minutes until the vegetables soften (but don't brown).  Add the garlic, cumin and red pepper flakes, tossing to combine with the other vegetables and cook for another minute.  Add the prepared beans and six cups of the vegetable broth (if you're using canned beans, then you might want to cut back on the broth--maybe 3 cups?).  Wouldn't hurt to add another pinch of salt and about 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.  Stir, bring to a boil, then turn down low and simmer partially covered until the beans are done.  This could take more than an hour or two. Stir the pot occasionally and add more broth if you think it needs it. 

When the beans are fully cooked but not mushy, put about three cups of the soup in a blender or food processor and blend (careful! it'll be hot!).  Add the blended soup back to the pot.  Stir in the honey and sherry or vinegar.  Be sure to do that after the beans are fully cooked.  Honey and sherry are acidic and will make the skins tough if they're not cooked.  Check and add more seasoning--salt, black pepper, hot pepper flakes, if desired.  Serve with garnishes over pasta or rice--or try the toasted orzo!

Toasted orzo
Toasted Orzo
This recipe cooks the orzo like it is rice--almost like a risotto.  It cooks just as fast as boiling the pasta--about 10 minutes--but it requires constant attention and stirring.  Why do it?  Well, the toasting turns the orzo into nutty goodness and makes it a bit more special.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup orzo (I used whole wheat, but regular is fine)
1 1/2 to 2 cups boiling vegetable broth (or you could use salted water)
1 tablespoon butter
Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Sprinkle the orzo over the olive oil and stir to coat the pasta with the oil. Stirring constantly, toast the orzo until it begins to brown, but be careful--once it begins to color, it can quickly burn!  (See photo.)  Add 1/2 cup boiling broth to the pan, stirring constantly.  (If you're using water, then add some salt, too.)  Keep stirring until most of the water is absorbed.  Add another 1/2 cup of the broth and keep stirring until it's absorbed and add another 1/2 cup of broth, continuing to stir.  When the broth is absorbed and the pasta begins to look creamy, check to see if it's done.  It may need another 1/2 cup of broth, and if so, add it and keep stirring.  Stir in the butter and serve with the soup!

Mom's Salmon Chowder 
I wish I had a photo of this pretty soup!  Ate it all up before I could snap a pic! 
1 pound fresh skinless salmon fillets or one 15 oz can salmon, rinsed  drained, flaked, and skin and bones removed 
1 tablespoon cooking oil 
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup thinly chopped celery
1 1/2 cups water
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 1/2 cups cubed red-skinned potatoes (3 medium)
1 10-ounce package frozen whole kernel corn
1 teaspoon snipped fresh dill or 1/2 teaspoon dried dillweed
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to season if needed
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1. Rinse fresh salmon; pat dry.  Set aside.  In a large saucepan heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook and stir carrots , onion, and celery in hot oil about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
2. Meanwhile, to poach fresh salmon, in a large skillet, bring water to boiling.  Add salmon.  Return to boiling; reduce heat covered, for 6-8 minutes, or until the salmon flakes easily with a fork. Remove salmon from skillet, discard poaching liquid.  Flake salmon into 1/2-inch pieces: set aside.
3. Stir the broth, potatoes, corn, dill, bay leaf, thyme,cayenne pepper, and salt into vegetables in saucepan.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Cook, covered, over medium-low heat about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.
4. Stir together 1/2 cup of the milk and cornstarch.  Add milk mixture to saucepan. Stir in remaining milk.  Cook and stir over the medium heat until thickened slightly and bubbly.  Cook and stir for 2 minutes more.  Gently stir in poached salmon or canned salmon.  heat through.
Mom included these notes with her recipe:  So...some notes about my stew....I didn't have the bay leaf..used red pepper instead of cayenne pepper (very little).  And I think I messed up on the corn starch and it might have been a little thicker.  Oh, and I used two of the salmon steaks we buy frozen. It was delicious, Momma! :)

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