This soup is full o' beans
The time of year it is and the way I’m feeling says soup. Plain and simple. It’s cold without and cold within (cold and muzzy within my head, that is). My first thought was carrot and ginger soup (which is a favourite) but then I drifted towards something more substantial, and that lead me to think of this black bean recipe, which I adore. It’s one of those recipes that doesn’t have a long or complicated list of ingredients, but those that are featured just seem to combine to great effect. In its original format, the recipe is for a thick stew but, with a little more liquid added, it makes for a really hearty, chunky soup with a nice chili kick. The black beans used are those that are popular in Latin American dishes (sometimes called black turtle beans), as opposed to the (typically fermented) black soy beans found in Asian dishes, which are a different beast entirely. In any case, the soup version of this dish is exactly what I felt like today. That and a couple of hot whiskeys. Good for what ails ya.
The pressure cooker was pressed into action today for the first time since its ordeal the other week, reverting to what it does best, getting pulses cooked in a vaguely practical amount of time.
That was always the trouble with dried pulses – the chickpeas, the kidney beans, the black beans, the butter beans et al. – cooking with them was anything but impulsive (unless, of course, you bought the tinned variety, which was always an option). Dried pulses, however, always involved a fair amount of advance planning: overnight soakage in water, then (in the case of chickpeas), 2 hours worth of simmering to get something suitably tenderised. The pressure cooker, along with the quick-soak method, revolutionised all of that.
Dear Pressure Cooker,
I would like to apologise for what I put you through the other night. To tell you the truth, I am only just about recovering from the experience myself.
Let me start by saying that you have been a faithful kitchen servant for many years. I need only think of the speed at which you have allowed me to cook a myriad pulses: kidney beans for that tex-mex chili and the Nigerian stew with the peanut sauce; black turtle beans for Mexican “charros”; black-eyed beans to be eaten with sweetcorn and a cider vinegar dressing; butter beans later slow-baked with carrots, tomatoes and oregano; soy beans for homemade tofu (though that was only the once); and chickpeas a zillion ways.
You were never, alas, meant to be used for jam-making.