Terrific Tomato & Black Bean Soup

At times, winter in Ontario feels like it is never going to end. We don’t see the sun much in my area which largely experiences short grey days and long dark nights, broken up by the occasional snowpocalypse or ice storm event. When spring finally rolls around, I think most of us have been gazing out the back door for weeks in our short sleeve shirts only to experience the stark realization that we need to go back into the house and grab a sweater, and quite likely rain jacket too.

Yes, we do get summer in Ontario, complete with heat waves, thunderstorms, and all the usual weather events. It’s just that when it’s the middle of winter, it seems like summer will never actually show up, and that is why we have soup. Long, cold, dark days are always better with soup. This recipe is one of our staples at UEGT during the winter. It’s a great recipe to take away at least some of those winter blahs. We use a version of this recipe in the pressure canner with added lemon juice, but since we are already in the middle of the winter season, this version of the recipe is written for heating and then eating.

What you need:

  • Enough Fresh or Frozen tomatoes that will become your soup base. You can cheat if you want and use 2-3 cans of condensed tomato soup with water as per can instructions instead of doing the home made thing. I won’t judge!
  • Black beans (we use about 1- 1.5 cups of dry beans from the garden and rehydrate them, but you can use a large can of black beans instead). Seriously, unless you have someone rummaging through your recycle bin, no one is going to know you used a can of black beans.
  • 1 medium diced onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic diced, or more if you like lots of garlic. I’d never make it as a vampire.
  • a stalk or two of chopped celery
  • hot peppers (optional) You can decide how ring of fire you want it.
  • Cumin powder (to your taste, we tend to go heavy on the cumin)
  • Chili powder (to suit your taste)
  • salt and pepper
  • a drop of oil or butter
  • sour cream or shredded cheese to top soup

Making the soup:

  • Add the drop of oil or butter to your stock pot and saute your onions and garlic until soft
  • If you are making your own tomato soup base, chop and cook your tomatoes until soft. Remove seeds and skins by processing soft tomatoes through a food mill. Pour the remaining tomato base into a stock pot with your onions and garlic. If you are using canned tomato soup, you can skip this step and just add your soup and water to the stock pot with the onions and garlic and you are good to go.
  • Rehydrate black beans (I like using an instant pot for this as I never remember to soak them the day before). Remember what I said earlier. You can also just use a large can of drained and rinsed black beans. Don’t forget to rinse them though or they will be starchy and kind of a gooey mess. Add the beans to the soup base in the pot.
  • Use an immersion blender to chop the black beans up a bit before you continue with you soup making. You don’t need to blend them to a pulp. You just want to beat them up a little which breaks them up a bit. This allows your soup seasonings to infiltrate the beans. Ok sounds complicated but it just means that your flavours are are mixed better throughout the soup.
  • Add your seasonings, the chopped celery, and any other veggies that you think might be interesting in the soup. I think corn works well, but I will admit, I often just look to see what I have in the fridge and toss in veggies that are starting to cross the line over into the “good for soup only” stage of their fridge life. Where is that line you ask? It’s about 1 or 2 stages before “good for feeding to chickens only” stage.
  • Bring your soup to a boil and then lower heat to simmer. You can now walk away and do other things for a bit (as long as you aren’t going to burn the kitchen down). A good flavourful soup shouldn’t be rushed. Sure you can cook it quick and eat it but it won’t be utterly amazing. This style of soup should simmer long enough to make some delicious fresh bread (using a bread maker, not your grandmother’s 10 day home made sour dough recipe). Personally, I like to make this soup and simmer it for a few hours, then let it cool, refrigerate it and eat it for lunch the next day (hopefully with fresh bread that my husband made. Full disclosure here, I do not bake. My complex baking endeavours have never really turned out well… ok they haven’t turned out at all. Total complete failure, but I digress). My point here is that although the soup will be good the day it is made, it reaches that level of mouth watering awesomeness if you leave it until the day after.
  • Enjoy your toasty warm bowl of soup with a dollop of sour cream or some shredded cheddar cheese, or if you are being really adventuresome, try a bit of both.

Enjoy the soup. Don’t worry, although it may not feel like it now, winter will come to an end. Well ok, that is unless you live somewhere where it’s ridiculously cold, all the time, under mountains of snow, and your neighbour is some jolly old guy who has an affinity for cookies and red pants. If you live in that place, I don’t really know if winter will end for you. Sorry. For you guys, I think you should maybe just embrace the hot cocoa and go hug a reindeer. Oh, and make lots of soup. Seriously, make stupid amounts of soup. You’ll need it. And maybe also consider moving…. unless you like snow…. and soup…. and abominable snow creatures.

Brrr. It’s time for some soup.

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