Pantry black bean soup

Maybe you’re grocery shopping less and you want to use what’s in your pantry. Maybe you just want something that’s warm, hearty, and comforting in a way only soup can be. This pantry-friendly recipe can accommodate whatever you have on hand, or don’t.

Most of the soup’s flavour comes from the black beans and the spices, so skip or substitute anything you’re missing, like broth, canned tomatoes, carrots and celery. You can even use onion powder and garlic powder if needed. This soup is a great way to use up leftover cooked or roasted veggies like sweet potato, cauliflower, zucchini, or squash; or fresh veggies that will soon be not-so-fresh, like carrots, celery, potatoes, sweet potatoes, red or green peppers, or avocado. If you have a cup or 2 of assorted roasted vegetables, add them. Or if you have only one small carrot and two fresh tomatoes, the soup will still be delicious. Customize it as you wish – the beans can handle it!

Pantry Black Bean Soup

Makes 4 to 8 servings, depending on additions

Dietary restrictions: Vegan; gluten-free depending on toppings

Cooking time: 15 to 30 minutes active time (depending on vegetables to chop), 30 to 60 minutes further cooking time with stirring at the beginning

Difficulty level: Easy if you follow the basic recipe or cook regularly, intermediate if you’re making substitutions

Ingredients

  • Small amount of oil or broth, for sautéing
  • 1 onion, diced (yellow, white, or red)
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 to 2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 to 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder, or chipotle spice powder/canned chipotles to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 to 3 cups vegetable broth or water (more or less depending on veggies used – start with less and add more if it is too thick after the blending step)
  • 2 cups cooked black beans (canned or from dry beans)
  • 1 small or large can of tomatoes, diced or whole (for whole tomatoes, squish them a bit with your hand or a blend briefly with a stick blender before adding)
  • 1 red or green pepper, diced (optional)
  • 1 potato or sweet potato, peeled and diced; or diced squash or zucchini (optional)
  • ½ cup canned or fresh corn (optional)

Directions

Heat a large pot over medium-high. Add oil or broth, garlic and onion and cook, stirring, until onion is translucent. (If you don’t have fresh onions, add fresh garlic to the carrots and celery—sautéing fresh garlic on its own can easily burn it.)

Add carrots and celery (and any other raw non-root vegetables like red or green pepper, zucchini, or fresh corn) and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add spices, and stir to heat through—direct heat brings out the flavor of spices.

Carefully add broth, black bean, canned tomatoes, and any optional longer-cooking raw veggies like potato or sweet potato. If you add longer-cooking veggies here, simmer 45 minutes then check if the veggies are done. Otherwise, add cooked veggies, like roasted cauliflower, and simmer for 15 minutes to allow flavours to combine.

Taste for flavour and check that all veggies are cooked through.

When soup is ready, carefully ladle a cup or two into a blender and blend briefly, and return to the soup pot. (Or use a hand blender and blend for one-second intervals, checking each time and stopping when your desired consistency is reached.) Use your judgement— if you like a chunky soup, you may want to blend only half a cup, or for a smoother soup, blend more.

If you have canned corn, add it after blending, cook a minute to heat through. Serve, with optional bread, pita or corn tortilla, or with optional toppings below.

Optional toppings – I recommend picking three

  • Squeeze of lime
  • Finely chopped onions, to taste, but be cautious with quantity if you’re social distancing with others!
  • Fresh chopped cilantro
  • Diced avocado
  • Diced fresh tomatoes
  • Roasted potato or sweet potato wedges
  • Canned corn or cooked fresh corn
  • Tortilla chips
  • Soft tortillas, rolled up and sliced into long thin strips

Make Your Life Slightly More Delicious with Homemade Salad Dressing

Modern life is about managing a delicate balance in so many things—cost and convenience, quality and time, effort and reward. But some things are just a clear win: that’s how I’ve come to feel about making my own salad dressing.

Recipe and image provided by Kyla Winchester

I know, you’re thinking, “Salad dressing? Salad dressing of all things?” Yes, salad dressing.
I eat salad greens a lot, as an easy side veg that doesn’t require a lot of prep. I used to dress the lettuce with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, but I found it all sank to the bottom of the bowl. …Look, it’s not one of life’s great tragedies that the oil and vinegar inevitably slid off the lettuce, but it made eating my veggies a lot less fun.
Then I tried making my own dressing. I was inspired by aquafaba, a new thing that is actually a very overlooked old thing that is helping vegan food be better. Aquafaba means ‘bean water’, and that’s really all there is to it: it’s the thick, bean-y liquid that’s left after you’ve cooked beans. If you prefer canned beans, the liquid in the can is the same thing, and works just as well. (Usually aquafaba is used to describe the liquid from chickpeas since it’s pale-colored and neutral-tasting, but for many uses, any bean liquid will do.) You may be asking, how did aquafaba become a ‘thing’? A few years ago, some innovative chefs discovered that the water we usually discard after cooking our beans can behave in a similar way to egg whites. Ever since, people have used it for things like making meringues (even macarons!), replacing eggs in baking, and making mayonnaise. Which is where the salad dressing comes in.
Like in mayonnaise, a stable salad dressing requires emulsifying oil and vinegar. Basically, you have to use something to get the oil and vinegar to stay mixed together instead of separating. Aquafaba can fulfill that role, resulting in a delicious salad dressing that you can flavour any old way you like. And since balsamic vinegar is already dark, you can use whatever aquafaba you have—like from black beans or kidney beans—without worrying about discoloration. (Note that if you do use aquafaba for white mayo, or icing, or anything else where the end product should be white or light-coloured, you’ll need aquafaba from a light bean.)
Moreover, making your own salad dressing gives you full control over the ingredients—you can flavour it however you’d like, without making it as sweet as commercial dressings, without allergens or gluten, without dairy or eggs. In the dozen or so times I’ve made this dressing, I’ve learned to add flavour, and yes, to add just a bit of sweetener. Balsamic vinegar is flavourful but a little agave or maple syrup cuts a bit of the acidity and makes your taste buds sing.
Best of all, making this recipe takes about 45 seconds with a stick blender, lasts several days in the fridge, and really impresses. “You made this dressing?!”

Basic Balsamic Salad Dressing
Difficulty level: easy
Time: less than 5 minutes
Makes 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. aquafaba (the cooking liquid from beans; for this recipe you can use the liquid from any bean, like chickpeas, pinto beans, navy beans, kidney beans, or black beans)
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup to ¾ cup olive oil or canola oil (olive oil will have a stronger olive taste, while canola oil will be more neutral)
  • 1 to 2 tsp. agave or maple syrup
  • ½ tsp. mustard powder
  • ½ tsp. onion powder, granulated onion, or dried minced onion (or a very small amount of fresh minced onion—start small and add more after tasting if needed)
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder, granulated garlic, or minced dried garlic (or a very small amount of fresh minced garlic—start small and add more after tasting if needed)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Add aquafaba, vinegar, and oil to a cup measure or other narrow container. (Tip: if you blend it in a bowl, the stick blender may not reach the liquid. A tall, narrow container is best! It just needs to be wide enough to fit the bottom of the stick blender.)

Start with a half-cup of oil, blend with the stick blender for a couple seconds, and then check consistency. Add a couple tablespoons of oil at a time, and then briefly blend until a suitable consistency has been achieved. Note it will thicken in the fridge, so if you’re not using all the salad dressing right away, err on the side of a little thinner. (Don’t stress, it’s easy enough to add more vinegar if it’s too thick or more oil if it’s too thin.)

Add remaining ingredients and blend briefly until combined. Store in the fridge in a covered container; it’s best used within a few days.