Black Bean Soup with Bacon and Cilantro

Dec 20th

It was Monday afternoon. I had no fresh meat or vegetables. It was too late to thaw meat. Husband called and said he would be home at seven and was STARVING. Hmm. Pantry? If you have canned beans and tomatoes on hand, and you can always make a homemade dinner.

Now, I got lucky here with the bacon and cilantro, but every other ingredient is a pantry staple. I made this early in the day and my mom happened to pop over, hungry, just as it was finishing up. I made her a bowl (sans cilantro, as even a whiff of the stuff makes her grumpy) and she made lots of noises while eating that made me think she really liked it. And then after she ate it, she TOLD me how much she liked it. Then, at dinner, my husband and I told each other how much we really liked it. So now here I am, telling you. If you make it and really like it, let me know! I love feedback.

Black beans are CRAZY good for you. Full of protein, fiber, and B vitamins, not to mention antioxidants. Fun fact – Brazil made beans their own food group, suggesting they should be eaten at least once a day. Interestingly, American dietary guidelines recommends we eat 1/2 c. of beans, 6 days a week. Did you eat your beans today?

Black Bean Soup with Bacon and Cilantro

Serves 4-6

5 Slices Bacon

2 medium onions, diced

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme

3 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained, 1 c. liquid reserved*

1 3/4 c. chicken broth

1 (28 oz can) whole, peeled tomatoes, chopped, in juice*

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. chili powder

Big pinch cayenne pepper

To Serve

1/4 c. nonfat Greek plain yogurt

1/3 c. fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

*When you open the can of beans, hold the top on to keep the beans in the can and let the liquid pour out into a glass measuring cup. I got about 1/2 c. liquid from 1 can of beans.

*You can use diced tomatoes here as well. I had whole, so I dumped the contents of the can into a mixing bowl and, using my hands, broke up the tomatoes into smaller pieces.

1. Saute bacon in dutch oven or large soup pot over medium high until cooked. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Remove most of the fat from the pan, leaving about 1 tbsp.

2. Add onion, garlic and thyme and saute until onions are softened and lightly golden, 5-8 minutes.

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3. Add beans, bean liquid, chicken broth, tomatoes (in juice), and spices. Place lid on pot and set heat to high.

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You will see I have some red kidney beans. I only had 2 1/2 cans of black beans, so I used some red kidney.

4. Bring liquid to boil and then take the lid off and reduce heat to low. Simmer 20 minutes to thicken and combine flavors.

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Look at the edges of the pot – that shows how the soup has reduced. Reduced means some water has evaporated, essentially concentrating the flavors of the soup!

5. Transfer mixture to blender or food processor (or use immersion blender) to puree soup until smooth. Return soup to pot and heat over low heat.

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6. Chop cooled bacon and garnish sprinkle over servings of soup, along with a scoop of  yogurt and freshly chopped cilantro.

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