I took a GRE practice test this evening. Ew.
Not ew? This soup that I ate for dinner afterwards.
First of all: it’s winter, and it’s finally time to make hearty soups. I loved my summer soups – especially that squash one with the masa dumplings! – but now it’s time for different fare. I saw recipes for bean and grain soups and thought, hold off, hold off. In the winter you will want those soups. And now it’s winter and I can make them.
Because it really is winter. It’s snowing in the mountains; the Mount Batchelor nordic center is opening tomorrow and I’ll be there skiing. In Eugene, it’s actually not incredibly gray, but the pouring rain has turned into a much colder mist occasionally cut with bursts of sunlight. It chills you to the bone even though the temperature is pretty moderate.
And so: this soup. I made it on Tuesday, froze a batch, and finished the original batch of leftovers tonight.
The recipe originally called for white beans, but I knew how long they took to soak and I didn’t plan far enough ahead, so I improvised with black beans. Would it have been better with white? I’m not sure. It was great with black. And almost all of the black bean soups I make are spicy in some way, maybe even with a sweet element; this was a more traditional, herby, refined soup. The way that the carrots and celery softened into silkiness was amazing. All hail winter soup.
As a side, I cooked up some of my grandmother’s Biscuits Supreme and used crème fraiche for most of the liquid; I also added in a bunch of chopped up chives which I had left over in the refrigerator from another project. Those were GOOD biscuits. I think that crème fraiche might go into all of my biscuits from now on.
So: in conclusion: in many parts of the world, there’s no snow despite the fact that winter is supposed to be here. But even if you don’t have snow and are simply cold and miserable from a neverending autumn that you’re totally sick of – cook up some soup. And dip biscuits in it. And smile.
Black Bean Soup With Parsley
adapted from Vegetable Soups by Deborah Madison
2 cups dry black beans
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 very large onion, that has been sitting in the pantry for so long that there are green shoots coming out of it, but it’s still totally fine and you cry like a baby when you slice it
2 celery ribs
2 garlic cloves
six or seven branches of parsley
salt and pepper
Serve with: Biscuits Supreme, adapted – base recipe here; leave out cheeses, substitute 1/4 cup crème fraiche for 1/4 cup milk, and add 1/4 cup chopped chives
Start by pouring boiling water over your black beans in a large bowl. Let them sit for about two hours, then drain out the water and rinse them. Set aside.
In a large pot, heat the olive oil until it shimmers. Add the onion, chopped medium-fine, and the carrots and celery in large chunks. Cook ten or so minutes until they begin to soften. Pour eight to ten cups of water over the whole thing, then add the garlic (finely chopped), parsley, and beans. Cook an hour and a half to two hours, until the beans are soft. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Wasn’t that simple!? Enjoy!