October 12, 2010

Soup Season

Since we went the "take only what we can jam in our car and in a few USPS boxes" way of moving, our house is rather bare. And by "rather," I mean "very." If we're talking about things we could use in our house, the list would be long - a bar stool (or four), pictures on the wall (we got rid of most of our frames and just kept the images), a dresser, a full-length mirror, etc, etc, etc.

And yet, I am happy to live without those things. Instead, what I dream about is kitchen items. Mainly, I've been thinking about serving dishes (my lovely in-laws sent me two very cool red and white serving bowls for my birthday (from England!) and yesterday I bought five serving dishes at the Crate and Barrel outlet).

I tend to steer away from kitchen appliances because I like to firmly believe that you don't need a lot of single-use tools to be a good cook. And yet, despite all my high-minded thoughts on the matter, I am really longing for several one-task tools. Oh, the humble pie, it burns going down.

I am really anxious to replace the food processor we left behind (a friend took it and I told her she was getting what she paid for, since the handle was nearly broken off, the contact button was supremely fidgety, and food gets stuck in the lid) and also my ice cream maker, which I managed to break just days before Ella's birth.

But even the desire to replace a kitchen tool I've had for years is not as embarrassing as the sudden rabid need to ADD a kitchen tool to my collection.

An immersion blender. I. . .didn't even know I needed one.

And then I made this black bean soup that changed my life. The first time I made it, I made a really small batch, thinking that we might not like it, and I just used my standard blender which wasn't so bad because the entire pot of soup fit in the blender.

But then the soup was so ridiculously delicious that I ended up being forced to make it again just a few days later when we had Brian and Ralphie and their girls over for dinner. And this time I had to blend it in my blender in three separate batches which was a gigantic pain and I thought wistfully about how great it would be if I could blend it RIGHT IN THE POT.

And then when we had a little soup buffet two weekends ago, I made it again.This time, I borrowed an immersion blender from Bart's cousins who live in the next building over from us and the angels sang. It was so easy. So effortless, so fast, so delightful. I may have shed a few tears when I returned it to them.

If you, like me, are a poor sad soul without an immersion blender, this soup is still worth making (Bart apparently raved so much about it after having the leftovers for lunch, that he had to email me to get the recipe so he could pass it along to his coworkers). It is THAT good. Make it, love it, wish for an immersion blender.

Black-Bean Soup
adapted from It's So Tasty Too

Ingredients:
1 (16 oz.) package dried black beans
12-16 ounces bacon, chopped
3/4 cup roughly chopped celery
3/4 cup roughly chopped onion
3/4 cup roughly chopped carrots
8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 large tomato, chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 jalapeno chili, minced, seeds removed
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons ground cumin

Place beans in a large bowl. Add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Let stand overnight. Drain and rinse well. Cook bacon in heavy large pot over medium heat until done, about 8 minutes. Do not drain drippings. Add beans and all other ingredients. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer soup until beans are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours.

If you have an immersion blender, process until slightly chunky puree forms. If you don't have an immersion blender, transfer soup to a blender and process until slightly chunky and pureed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

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21 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh. I LOVE my immersion blender. I was only on paragraph 2 of your post when I was ready to leave a comment demanding that you get one. And then I kept reading and realized the whole post was ABOUT an immersion blender. So let's just say I totally concur. I made really awesome bean dip with mine this weekend for a party.

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  2. Yum! Sounds delicious. I have never missed having an immersion blender, but it does sound like a delightful tool.

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  3. My dad bought me an immersion blender (it does other things too) and I honestly thought I'd never use it...until I broke my blender by pouring hot soup into the glass pitcher.

    This is the one I have, I highly recommend it: http://www.overstock.com/Home-Garden/Wolfgang-Puck-Immersion-Blender-Refurbished/2475158/product.html

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  4. Immersion blenders are totally worth it. I think they are pretty cheap as appliances go (I think we got ours for about $30?). They are fun and very easy to use and clean. They are helpful for ANYTHING you would blend, but I have only used ours on soups. Soups that I would not have made if I did not have an immersion blender because it is just too annoying any other way (both because of the transferring and the cleaning of the blender). So, for me, totally worth it.

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  5. Immersion blenders are totally worth it - especially if you get the kind that has some extras so that it works pretty much as a regular blender. My mom has one, and I use it for soups, but also for chopping nuts (for cakes or dinner or whatever), for crushing bananas for banana bread, for making salsa...

    seriously, go buy one.

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  6. This sounds wonderful, so I will make it. However, I doubt I'd bother to blend it. Just "makes for" more dishes to wash.

    Oh, a pastry cutter (I have a deep U shaped one) or a mixer would work to blend this.

    Also, don't bother to soak beans. Sort, rinse, bring to boil, and then turn down the heat to let them simmer. Easy. No pouring off leached vitamins and minerals, either.

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  7. A) I love soup. B) I love making soup. C) I think this soup sounds FABULOUS and shall be trying it soon. D) I had no idea an Immersion Blender existed, and now it has sky-rocketed on my "Want!" list. So thank you for that. ;)

    xox

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  8. I love soup season! I definitely need to try this recipe. It sounds delicious!

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  9. Thank you for the recipe. And don't feel bad about the blender coveting. I want one, too. I've heard they're super helpful for making baby food. I did all mine in the blender, which was easy, too, but anything that saves a few minutes is a good thing.

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  10. Yes, you need an immersion blender, and I highly recommend the inexpensive, Alton-Brown-approved model we have. We use it more than we use our normal blender, and I daresay that I eat much more soup than I drink smoothies and the like.

    Do it, do it, do it. (Or at least ask for one for Christmas!)

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  11. PS: Acid (tomatoes) added to beans while they are cooking slows the cooking time and/or can make the beans stay tough. It is a good idea to until the last 1/2 hour or so to add the tomato.

    I would probably use a can of tomatoes, juice and all. I don't care for cooked tomato skins, so I would peel a fresh tomato. (Pour boiling water over it to split the skin for easy peeling.)

    I bet this would freeze well and/or be wonderful done in the slow cooker and/or be even tastier the second day.

    Can you tell I'm excited about this recipe?!

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  12. An immersion blender has been at the top of my wish list for a long time now. Thanks for the recipe.

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  13. I'm glad you love the soup. It is amazing. Next you need to try the Chicken Enchilada. I have like 4 amazing soup recipes that all require an immersion blender and I don't own one either. It really is a sad thing. If you do splurge, I have to say the "Kitchen Aid" brand is wonderful.

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  14. Mmmmm.... my soup-making fingers are trembling just thinking about this soup!~

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  15. Yum!!!

    I never knew we "needed" an immersion blender until last fall, when butternut squash soup became our go-to meal. The immersion blender makes it so much easier to make! I hope you can find one you love.

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  16. Well I'm glad you left behind your food processor:) I completely understand what you're going through. I pretty much want every small kitchen appliance and gadget on the market.

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  17. The immersion blender is maybe my very favorite kitchen tool. It makes life so easy. And I use it for lots of things beyond soup, including whipping slightly chunky crepe batter into a smooth consistency in 5 seconds flat. And thanks for posting the recipe. :)

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  18. Oh, also - do you have freecycle in your area? A few times I've been in need of a specific something and have requested and received it almost instantaneously. This is something that could be easily sanitized and reused.

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  19. I love my immersion blender dearly! Your black bean soup recipe sounds good and I will have to try it. Love that we are in soup weather here.

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  20. Hmm... That does sound good, and I don't even like soup. But I don't have an immersion blender either. I wonder if the kids would think that was an exciting Christmas present?

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  21. I once owned an immersion blender. Someone gave it to me for my wedding. It broke the second time I tried to use it and I never replaced it. BUT! I am totally loving the idea of this soup. mmmmm. I love, love black beans. They are my favorite legume. ;) Does it turn out thick or runny?

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