Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey’s Black Bean Soup with Salsa

January 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

Ok, I swear I’ll stop posting about beans.  I feel like that’s all I talk about, but I had to share this soup with you b/c it’s just too good to not share, even at the risk of being “the bean lady”.  I’ve had The Essential New York Times Cookbook on loan from the library for about a thousand weeks now (and I’m so sad I have to give it back, finally).  This is a recipe I found there.  Make it this weekend and eat it for days. Buy good, fresh salsa if you don’t feel up to making it.

Black Bean Soup with Salsa

adapted from a recipe by Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey via The Essential New York Times Cookbook

Note**this recipe called for beans that haven’t been soaked overnight or quick-soaked.  I did soak mine overnight which significantly reduced the time the soup was on the burner: from 2 1/2 hours to about 1 hour.  You can use whatever method you like for the beans, even subbing rinsed, canned beans if need be. Also, instead of chicken or vegetable broth, I used bean broth left over from pinto beans I had cooked a few days before (ok, I AM the bean lady)…You can use the liquid you use to cook beans in place of broth.

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped celery
  • 1 1/2 cups finely diced carrots
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 4 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh oregano leaves or 1 tablespoon dried oregano, crumbled
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 16 cups broth (vegetable, or chicken, or bean, see note)
  • 1 pound black beans, soaked
  • 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • salsa
  • sour cream


For Salsa:

  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 white or yellow onion, finely diced
  • salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • juice of one lime

Heat olive oil and butter, in a large pot, over medium high heat.

Add the onions, celery, carrots, bay leaf, garlic, thyme, three tablespoons of the cumin, black pepper, oregano and a pinch of salt. Stir to blend and cover. Cook about five minutes over moderately low heat. Do not allow the mixture to burn.

Add the tomato paste and stir briefly. Add the broth and bring to a boil.

Drain the beans and add them to the soup. Cook, uncovered, simmering until the beans are velvety and some of them have fallen apart.
Stir in the lime juice, cayenne pepper, salt, and cilantro. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
Serve the salsa and sour cream on the side, to be added at will.

Recipes for the Holiday Rush

December 14, 2011 § 4 Comments

When I’m busy, I get caught: dinnertime comes, but I’ve not had a single thought about dinner.  Everyone’s hungry, I’m tired, and we just get a pizza or something. It’s fine sometimes, but the money can add up.  So, here are some links for a few recipes that I’ve been making lately in effort to get through the “busy, busy” of Christmas without breaking the bank on take out or fast food.

  • Pappardell with Slow-Cooked Meat-Yes, I know, “slow cooked meat” is a pretty unfortunate title, but this is a great recipe.  Pappardell can be subbed out for a less expensive noodle-type pasta.
  • Spicy Pulled Pork from Ree Drummond– we’ve seen this one before on this blog, but it’s just so easy, I had to mention it again.
  • Good Old Chili con Carne Chili from Jamie Oliver. Adding cinnamon into chili adds a great layer of flavor. Also, I like to triple the garlic and add a little tomato paste with the tomatoes, but it’s warming and lovely as is, too.
  • Pork Cooked in MilkNot used to cooking meat in milk? This will convince you of it’s virtues.  Lemon peel, sage, garlic? Say no more. The smell is enough of a reason for you to make this one.
  • Curly Kale and Potato Soup (with Sausage or without) This is a soup from Alice Water’s Art of Simple Food.  You can use sausage or make it completely vegan by leaving it out and changing chicken broth to vegetable broth.  It’s both tasty and kind to your wallet either way you decide to make it.

I think if I intersperse these kinds of meals with easy pastas, or a quick stir-fry, we’ll be able to maneuver through the holiday season without too many wallet or health hazards. I think it’s a good pursuit, whether we’re 100% successful or not.

What about you, readers? Do you have any favorites you like to use when you are too busy for words? I’d love to hear ideas!

Simple Tomato Soup

June 3, 2011 § 4 Comments

It’s tomato season around here, and while we are finally getting some fruit on our own plants,  a lot of the tomatoes you see here are part of my friend Angie’s crop. She gave me some gorgeous ones.  After eating some raw with oil, goat cheese, and herbs (mmmm) I decided to satisfy another summer craving and use them in tomato soup.

There are tons of recipes out there for tomato soup.  I looked at this  recipe (and want to try it), and other sort of straight up tomato style soups.  I wasn’t sure how well that many VISIBLE tomatoes would be received, though. The kids like tomato soup, but not tomatoes. Make’s a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

I ended up with this one from Tyler Florence because it called for ingredients I had on hand and it asks you to roast the tomatoes with some onion and garlic first. The promise of that smell alone was enough to make me want to make this one. It’s to die for (dahhhling). An added bonus?  You can do some extra “no slurping your soup” manners training with your kids (or yourself)!

Roasted Tomato Soup

adapted from a recipe by Tyler Florence

This recipe originally called for much more olive oil at the beginning as well a fair amount (1/2 cup) of heavy cream at the end.  I really didn’t think it needed it. I love to really taste the roasted flavor of the tomatoes, but it was great with a little cream swirled into each bowl. I served it with parmesan toasts made from a leftover loaf and a spinach salad.

  • 2 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes (mix of plum, cherry, beefsteak, whatever)
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 small yellow onions, sliced
  • 4 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 quart vegetable stock (broth)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, optional, but really good
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, optional

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Wash, core and cut the tomatoes into halves. Spread the tomatoes, garlic cloves and onions in a baking tray.  Drizzle olive oil over the top, and season everything with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, or until caramelized (you should see some browning).

Remove roasted tomatoes, garlic and onion from the oven and transfer to a large pot . Add 3/4 of the chicken stock, bay leaves, and butter. Bring that mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until liquid is reduced to 1/3 its original volume.  Remove bay leaves.

Wash and dry basil leaves, if using, and add to the pot. Use an immersion blender  or regular blender to puree the soup until smooth (be careful not to fill blender too full). Return soup to low heat, and adjust consistency with remaining chicken stock, if necessary. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Top each bowl with a splash of heavy cream (about a teaspoon) and fresh basil leaves, if you’ve got them.

Ten Bites

March 16, 2011 § 7 Comments

Carrot soup.  My mind has been taken over by carrot soup. If I close my eyes, I see orange.  When I look around my kitchen I think, “I wonder if THAT would taste good in carrot soup (banana/carrot soup?).  I had a request for a good carrot soup recipe, and, well, I’m still looking.

I’ve made one recipe twice now (A version inspired by carrot soups from How To Cook Everything Vegetarian and 101 Cookbooks).  I thought I really liked it the first time.  I made it again to make sure I wasn’t leading people astray, and I discovered something: It tasted mildly of vomit.  I’m not sure what it was (the lemon, the thyme, the honey, the garlic?), but, you think it’s good, you’re eating it happily, and ten bites in, you realize you just can’t do it.  Ten bites was your limit.  At ten bites, it tastes like throw up.

So, I’m going to give my family a break from carrot soup for a while (two times in three days was a bit much for them). But, now I’m really intrigued.  Does anyone out there have a tested carrot soup recipe that doesn’t call for coconut milk, doesn’t taste like baby food, and doesn’t remind you of your last bad stomach virus?  Surely there is a good one out there.  I think. Maybe.

Simple Lentil Soup

February 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

I mentioned in this post that I picked up a copy of Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian from the library the other day. I have to say, it’s a great book. It’s so informative (it IS over 800 pages long), has basic instructions for the best ways to cook every type of vegetable, and has loads of variations to his recipes. I’m going to hog this one from the library for a while, I can tell. I like his laid back approach.  If there is one thing I like in a recipe, it’s the ability to be flexible, to use what you have, to make do, if you will.  Bittman seems to think similarly.

This simple lentil soup is from his book.  My main issue with lentil soups are that they look so…brown.  But, good people, I will ask you to look beyond this humble soups boring appearance.  It’s got some things going for itself!  As unappetizing as it looks, it’s got some zing to it in the form of garlic, onions, lemon, and some good, tangy parmesan grated on top.  It also has the virtues of being a hearty meal, but feeling light on your stomach.  You’ll feel like you’ve been fueled for action. Bonus: this is about as cheap as it gets for a filling meal. A bag of lentils costs $1.39.

I was pretty much the only one who liked this meal.  Vince said he liked it but added “I was REALLY hungry when I sat down, so that helped”.  He says the sweetest things. The kids were counting bites (“how many bites do I have to take?”) from the beginning, but made it through. Again, bread was their port in the storm of dinner.

Lentil Soup adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

(I actually doubled the recipe below b/c I wanted to use all the lentils I had.  It worked well.  If you refrigerate leftovers, you may have to add some broth or water to the soup when you warm it up.  I also added the lemon, parsley, and cheese.  The original didn’t call for them, but I think they made big contributions to flavor.)

1 cup dried lentils, washed and picked over

1 bay leaf

Several sprigs of fresh thyme, or a few pinches of dried

1 carrot, cut into a 1/2-inch dice

1 celery stalk, cut into a 1/2-inch dice

6 cups vegetable stock or water (I used half and half)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 onion chopped

1 teaspoon minced garlic (I added more than this)

The juice of 1 lemon

Chopped parsley

Grated parmesan cheese

Put the lentil, the bay leaf, the thyme sprigs, carrot, celery, and the stock or water in a  medium saucepan.  Add salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down when it boils and cook on low, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, but not mushy. about 30 minutes.

While cooking the lentils, put the olive oil in a skillet and heat over medium high heat.  Add the onion and a little salt, and cook until the onion softens, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.  Take the skillet off the heat.

Back to the lentils.  Fish out the bay leaf and thyme sprigs from the lentils and stir the onion mixture in.  Add more liquid at this point if it’s needed. Stir in lemon juice and serve with grated cheese.

A Sort of Ribollita with Parsley Pesto

January 20, 2011 § 10 Comments

There are few things in our garden that have survived bugs, disease, dogs, and squirrels this year, but one of them is the chard.  Chard is a bitter green leafy thing that is supposed to be abounding in vitamins. (don’t you love my scientific approach?) So, this morning we (myself and two “cold!” kids that refused to put on warmer clothes OR shoes) went out to the garden and cut what chard was ready to be eaten.

After a good rinse, it was ready to go. Into something. I just didn’t know what.  I also had a bag of navy beans staring me in the face saying “I’m nutritious, cheap and filling, if somewhat boring”, and dinner needed to be full of just that type of ingredient.   So, I took a trip over to this lady’s site and found her recipe for Ribollita (a “reboiled” Italian stew that is thickened with stale bread).  I could us the chard instead of the cavolo nero (a dark kale from Tuscany), the navy beans, and a little bit of Susan’s bread to thicken the mix. Perfect.  Oh! And this recipe called for water instead of any kind of broth, meaning, cheaper to make. Exciting!

About half way through the cooking process I knew I was going to need something to add a little zing to this dish, so I decided to make a pesto to swirl into the top of each bowl when I served it.  This is something I love to do with soup. Herb pesto could be one of my favorite things to make. It’s so aromatic and green and tasty, I usually have the ingredients already here, and you can fudge on the proportions.  I made a parsley pesto b/c that was what I had to use, but try whatever you like/have. I think basil or cilantro would work well.

So how did it go over? I, of course, loved it. (I did pick all the flavors.)  My husband liked it, pretty well.  My kids’ responses varied from tears at the thought of having to even put it in their mouths, to willing to eat it, but only b/c we had some yummy bread to help it out.  This is not new or unexpected, but I’ve pretty much decided, while I’m not going to cook things that I KNOW they will hate, I’m not going to worry about it that much either.  I mean, I’m not trying to be snotty, but they aren’t doing the cooking.  And It’s food Vince and I like.  They won’t die.

Ribollita (almost like 101 cookbooks)with Parsley Pesto

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

4 celery stalks, chopped

3 medium cloves garlic, chopped

3 medium carrots

1/2 medium red onion, chopped

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

3 cups Swiss Chard, stems trimmed off and chopped, and leaves well chopped

4 cups  cooked white beans

8 cups of water

2 cups crustless bread torn into bite-size pieces

1 1/2+ teaspoons fine grain sea salt or kosher salt

zest and juice of one lemon


Heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat.  Add the celery, garlic, carrot, onion, and chard stems, letting them sweat for about 12 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and red pepper flakes and cook for 10 more minutes.  Now, add the chard, 3/4 of the beans, and the water.  Let simmer for about 8 minutes, or until the chard becomes tender. While you wait, mash the remaining beans with a fork or spoon in a bowl.  Add the mashed beans and the bread and cook 15 more minutes, letting the bread break down and the soup thicken. Add the salt, lemon zest, and lemon juice.

Serve with a dollop of pesto on top.

Parsley Pesto by me

1 cup of parsley, big stems removed

1 big garlic clove

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (or walnuts, or pecans, or, or….)

Put all of that in a food processor or blender and chop until everything is chopped fine.  Then add:

2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 olive oil

Mix until it looks grainy.

Add salt if you like.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the soups category at Space & Thyme.