Today was one of those days. You know the type. The kind of day where no matter what your best made plans are something unforeseen and completely out of your control happens to bring your plans to a screeching halt. Yep, that’s what my day was like today. For starters, I slept in this morning because I stayed up late last night trying to catch up on a bunch of work that I’ve been behind on. I was woke up this morning by my cell phone ringing to find out it was nearly noon. With nearly half the day gone, I got up and hit the ground running getting busy with household chores. Since it was so late, I needed to figure out what I was making for supper quick. I decided to put on a pot of beans. So after getting a load of laundry going, the dishwasher unloaded from the night before, and the animals cared for, I sat down and looked a pound of dried black beans to be washed, discarding any beans that didn’t look good as well as tiny rocks (It’s rare that I find rocks, but it happens once in a while). I had been craving Panera Bread’s Black Bean Soup for several weeks and because of COVID-19, I haven’t had any since before March. To begin with, we didn’t eat out at all. Then as we learned more about the coronavirus (allegedly the virus is killed by your stomach acid during digestion), we started going through a drive-thru if need be or picking up curbside from time to time. But, for the most part, we’ve cooked at home. Cooking with dried beans is not something I’ve done very often. I’ve never been a huge fan of beans, the exception being chili beans. Growing up, Mom would cook cranberry or october beans, fried potatoes, pork chops or Spam, and cornbread. As a kid, I was on board with everything except the beans. I hated beans as a kid. As an adult, I found I liked beans in small portions as a side, but only if they were seasoned really well. I’ve tried really hard through the years to like them. I cook cranberry beans for Rick from time to time, but I always find myself having to force them down. To me, they just lack flavor. I love chili and I transitioned into making my own chili from scratch with dried beans about 7 years ago. I think they taste better than canned, and you definitely get a lot more beans for your money. But, I’ve wanted to come up with some more recipes using dried beans besides my chili and the southern version with potatoes and cornbread. So, I got online and looked at several black bean soup recipes online. Using the recipes I had viewed online as inspiration, I came up with my list of ingredients and decided to create my own.
I started out by washing my one pound of “looked” organic dried black beans in a bowl of water, swishing them around in the bowl with my hand and then straining them in the sink. I did this multiple times until the water ran clear and I was confident they were clean. I then put them in a large stock pot, added enough water to cover them by about 4 inches, placed them on the stove, covered with a lid, and brought them to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling well, I turned them down to low and let them slowly simmer for the rest of the day with the lid on, keeping them stirred.
After getting the beans cooking, I then made brunch for myself. This consisted of a peanut butter and apple jelly sandwich. Now PB&J is not something I normally eat. I cannot remember the last time I ate PB&J, but it was quick and allowed me to get on with the rest of the day. After I finished tidying up in the kitchen, I went to turn the water on to start washing my veggies for my black bean soup to discover that, guess what? I had no water. For a second I thought it was my faucet because it spit and spurted some water then nothing. I went to the bathroom and tried that sink. No water there either. After a phone call to the water company, I found out a line had burst somewhere and they were trying to get it fixed. By this time it was after 3 pm and I couldn’t wash my other ingredients for my soup, so I decided to make my buttermilk cornbread early since that didn’t need water.
By 5pm my beans were soft and the broth had started to thicken. Thankfully, the water was back on, and I was able to wash my veggies. I diced one red bell pepper, 1 medium onion, 2 jalapenos, and 4 stalks of celery then added them to the pot. I then added approximately 2 tablespoons of freeze dried garlic (because I didn’t have fresh), approximately 1/2 T of powdered garlic, a dash of red pepper flakes, and then about 2-3 T of dried cumin powder. Salt and Pepper to taste. Then I threw in a drained can of organic corn, a can of Clint’s Texas Mild Salsa for an extra kick of flavor, and a little chicken broth. I let everything slowly boil for about 30 minutes and then taste tested it, adding about one more tablespoon of cumin near the very end. I had planned on adding sour cream, but then decided against it. Next time I may try that just to give it a little more creaminess and tangy flavor. With all that said, my Southwestern Black Bean Soup turned out really well, and it paired perfectly with my buttermilk cornbread. My husband liked it, and it is definitely going to be one of our new go to recipes for something easy to make on week days. I’m sure I will tweak the recipe here and there, as I typically do when learning how to cook something new, but this one is definitely a keeper.
As I sit here writing this blog post, fully content with a home cooked meal in my belly, and a purring Cocoa (cat) in my lap, I think about what started off to be a rushed, running behind with everything kind of day, turned out to be pretty wonderful.