Meatless Monday – Spicy Black Bean Soup

I love love love black beans. Next to spinach, they might be my most regular go-to ingredient for daily yum. Black beans taste fab in chili and burritos, refried in quesadillas (sans cheese – all you need is refried black beans, salsa, & tortillas), on salads and topped on baked sweet potatoes. And in soups.

Last week I had an I-don’t-want-to-cook evening. We all have those, right?, even those who thrive on cooking. But the troops were hungry, so I rallied. I poked through my stash of recipes and was delighted to find my recipe for Spicy Black Bean Soup. I hadn’t made it in a while, it requires only six ingredients, and takes less than 20 minutes. Win all around.BBsoup

I made it again today because, why not? It’s a soup and almost a bean dip since I serve it with tortilla chips. Tonight I paired it with veggie burgers (we get them at Costco), mine on a salad of arugula fresh from a friend’s garden with a hummus/mustard/lemon juice vinaigrette (lemon also from friend’s garden). Not pictured are the roasted sweet potato wedges with jalapeno aioli. Yum x 3!

Spicy Black Bean Soup
Serves 4-6 as side dish or 3-4 as main dish

1 c red or yellow onion, diced (about half a large onion)
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbsp spicy green salsa (or 2 Tbsp diced mild green chilies)
2 15-oz cans black beans, rinsed & drained
2 c veggie broth
Chopped fresh cilantro or green onions, as garnish
Tortilla chips to serve

In large soup pot over medium-high heat, saute onion for 2 minutes. Add garlic and cumin; saute for 2 minutes. Add salsa or chilies and saute 1 more minute. [If you can’t be bothered, add onion, cumin, garlic and salsa all at once and saute until onion is tender, about 5 minutes]. Add beans and broth. Bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until flavors blend, about 15 minutes. Using an immersion blender, pulse to thicken soup; don’t fully puree – or you can if you prefer, of course, but I like some texture to my food. You can also remove some of the soup and pulse in a blender or food processor. Ladle soup into bowls, garnish as desired, and serve with chips.BBsoup ingredients

Meatless Monday – Taco Tuesday

Teen declared this the greenest avocado he's ever seen

Teen declared this the greenest avocado he’s ever seen

Vegetarian + Californian = we ❤ Mexican food!

Rice and beans, baby! We’re all over ’em. Toss in some onions, tomatoes, cilantro, shredded lettuce, colorful bell peppers – veggie goodness abounding. So versatile, so delicious.

And like most busy families, we need quick meals. To quote Rachael Ray, 30 Minute Meals.

Or, how about 20 minutes? Or less?

Tuesday is a long day for our family. We might all be home for two hours (or less) between school and activities before several of us scatter again. So dinner has to be fast, though I won’t sacrifice the health- or yum-factors.

Enter the most versatile meal in our repetoire. At its essence, bean dip, but it can be burritos, tacos, enchiladas, nachos – you choose (at our table, we often have some of everything, depending on who’s in the mood for what; as Tween says, “Style your own meal!”). And just for fun, let’s have it on our busiest day of the week and name it Taco Tuesday.

Basic Bean Dip
1 can veggie refried beans (we like Trader Joe’s refried black beans)
1/3 c green salsa (or your favorite salsa – to taste)
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 c cooked brown rice

In a large saucepan, warm refried beans. As they begin to soften, stir in salsa. Add whole beans and rice and warm through. It’s that easy!

The brown rice is the only thing to slow this meal down. I use Trader Joe’s brown basmati rice, which cooks uncovered in 20 minutes. It smells like popcorn (perk!) and needs no tending, so I will often cook up a quick pot (1 c uncooked rice to 2 c boiling water + 20 minutes on medium-high heat) while I’m doing something else – kitchen clean up or homework help.

Meal suggestions:
*Burritos might be our most-often use for this dip. Warm up some whole wheat tortillas, shred lettuce or cabbage, chop tomatoes, and the kids like to add cheese.
*I have been known to spoon this gooey-goodness on to a bowlful of shredded lettuce for a taco salad. Add any other veggies you like + salsa as salad dressing.
*If you have taco shells or tortilla chips on hand, you can use all the same ingredients to make tacos or nachos.
*Spread dip on warm corn tortillas to add a little more veggie-power to fish tacos.
*Yesterday I put the warm dip in a casserole dish topped with chopped veggies – avocado, tomatoes, green onions, olives, cilantro – and we had a tasty vegan version of 7-layer dip for our Superbowl party (although next time I might add some chopped jalapenos for kick).

Superbowl bean-veggie dip

Superbowl bean-veggie dip