Tag Archives: black bean

Soups for cold days

Few foods have the restorative power of soup. We’re not talking about the canned heat-and-eat variety, many of which lean too heavily on sodium as a key ingredient. We prefer to make our own soups and, thanks to our participation in a community-supported agriculture program, we always enter the new year with a cornucopia of root vegetables just waiting for some broth.

This time of year we prefer hot, thick soups chock-full of ingredients (mostly vegetables) to fill our stomachs and warm our souls.

In creating a soup, professional cooks start with one or two specific ingredients and add contents they regard as complementary. Our choice is often determined by what’s been sitting for the longest time in the vegetable bin. For instance, three or four leftover turnips cry out for a batch of booyah, an extra chunky chicken-noodle-vegetable soup that’s a local favorite.

Ready to stash the Campbell’s and try making your own soup from scratch? Here are a couple of recipes to get you started.


In producing the traditional northeastern Wisconsin soup-stew, our Kewaunee County grandmothers started with a big stewing hen cut into pieces and set to boil. Everything — including the skin, bones, neck and vital organs — were included along with the meat.

The resulting soups were rich with layers of chicken fat, vegetables and homemade noodles. As much as we loved the chicken booyah, we’ve modified the recipe to be more heart-healthy and appealing.


2 lbs. chicken breasts, bone-in

5 quarts water

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 medium onion, chopped

4 carrots, sliced

3 stalks celery, diced

(We also add turnips, parsnips, rutabagas or celeriac from our CSA)

2 cups frozen corn 

5 oz. Harrington’s Amish Style Handmade Noodles


Remove skin from chicken breasts and place them in a large stockpot. Add 5 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of kosher salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours. 

Remove the chicken breasts from the stockpot and place on a plate to cool. Allow the stock to cool and remove any congealed fat. Strain the stock and return it to the pot. Heat to boiling, add the vegetables and noodles and simmer for 30–45 minutes. While the vegetables are cooking, remove the meat from the bones and cut it into small pieces. When the vegetables are soft, add the breast meat to the stock and simmer for an additional 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!


We’re fans of vegetarian soups and of anything using squash. Blogger Kaylen Denny’s low-fat adaptation of the following Bon Apetit recipe for Azteca Squash Soup is a delicious, meat-free alternative. 


1 large butternut squash (about 1.5 lbs.)

Salt and fresh ground black pepper 

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 cups finely chopped onion

2 cups finely chopped celery

6 cloves garlic, finely minced 

6 cups vegetable stock or canned vegetable broth 

2 teaspoons ground cumin 

1 15-oz. can of black beans

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped small

1/2 cup chopped cilantro (plus more to garnish soup if desired)

1–2 tablespoons of jalapeño hot sauce 

Low-fat sour cream or plain Greek yogurt to garnish soup (if desired)

Crushed tortilla chips to sprinkle in the soup (if desired)


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the butternut squash in half and use a sharp spoon to scoop out seeds. Place the squash on a baking sheet, season with salt and pepper and roast until slightly brown and soft enough to pierce with a fork (about 50-60 minutes).  Let the squash cool enough to handle.

While the squash is roasting, chop the onion and celery and mince the garlic. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick soup pot and sauté the onions and celery until soft (about 7 minutes).  Add minced garlic and cook 2–3 minutes more.  Add 2 cups of vegetable broth and simmer the mixture for 10 minutes.

Once the squash has cooled, scrape the flesh from the skin and mix it with the other 4 cups of broth and the ground cumin.  Add this mixture to the soup pot and simmer about 20 minutes; then use an immersion blender or food processor to purée the soup.  

While the soup simmers, rinse the black beans with cold water. Chop the cilantro and red bell pepper.  Add the beans, red bell pepper and cilantro to the soup mixture and simmer for 15–20 minutes more, adding a little more vegetable stock if desired.  Stir in the jalapeño sauce to taste and serve the soup hot, garnished with low-fat sour cream or plain Greek yogurt and tortilla chips.

Savory soup for cold winter nights

When it’s bitterly cold outside, is there anything better than the inner warmth that only a piping hot bowl of soup can provide?

Winter is definitely soup season for us, a time when we take to the kitchen with piles of fresh vegetables, succulent meats and seafood and a cupboard full of herbs and spices. Whether the result is bouillon or bouillabaisse, bisque, borscht or bird’s nest soup, a hearty, nutritious meal is only a matter of combining the right ingredients and setting the stove to simmer.

The evidence of soup dates back to 6,000 B.C., about the time that clay jars – thought to be the first watertight containers – came into use. The word “soup” comes from the French word “soupe,” or broth, which further derives from “suppa,” a phrase in vulgar Latin that meant bread soaked in broth. In 16th-century France, soup sold by street vendors became popular for its restorative powers. It wasn’t long before entrepreneurs set up soup shops called restaurants, which loosely translates into “something restorative.”

Soup was popular in Colonial America and the invention of canning made soup even more popular – and accessible. The Campbell Soup Co. introduced condensed soups in 1897. Its three most popular brands – tomato, cream of mushroom and chicken noodle – account for some 2.5 billion bowls consumed in America every year.

We like to make our own soups, combining organic vegetables and grocery store ingredients to create a hearty and healthy meal. Soup is a good way to use leftover produce and it helps to make nutritious but difficult ingredients, such as a kale, more manageable.

In creating soups, first decide on a main ingredient, then look for other contents to complement it in both flavor and texture. Decide if you want the soup to be thick and stew-like, or merely a thin broth. Knowing that will help you choose the right amount of seasoning. 

The following recipes are among our favorites:

Winter squash soup with Gruyère croutons 

(adapted from epicurious.com)

¼ cup (½ stick) butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

4 large garlic cloves, chopped

3 14½-ounce cans low-salt chicken broth

3 lbs. squash, butternut or acorn (2 large or 3 small)

1 ¼ tsp. minced fresh thyme

1 ¼ tsp. minced fresh sage

¼ cup half & half

2 tsp. sugar


2 tbsp. (¼ stick) butter

24 ¼-inch-thick baguette bread slices

1 cup grated Gruyère cheese

1 tsp. minced fresh thyme

1 tsp. minced fresh sage

For soup:
Melt butter in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, then sauté until tender (about 10 minutes). Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Brush each half with olive oil and lightly salt and pepper. Place squash on baking sheet cut side down and roast in a 350-degree oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and cool. Scoop the flesh from the squash and add it to onions. Then add the broth and herbs and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until squash is tender (about 20 minutes). Puree soup in a blender then return it to the same pot. Stir in cream and sugar and simmer. Season with salt and pepper. 

Preheat broiler. Butter one side of each bread slice and arrange buttered side up on baking sheet. Broil until golden (about one minute). Turn over. Sprinkle cheese, then thyme and sage over bread. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil until cheese melts (about one minute). Ladle soup into bowls, top with croutons and serve.

Black bean chili with dark roast coffee

(Adapted by Andrea Yoder, Harmony Valley Farms, from “Long Way on a Little”
by Shannon Hayes)

Serves 4-6

1 cup dried or canned black beans, sorted and rinsed

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 pound beef stew meat or round steak, cubed

1 large onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp. chili powder

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tbsp. crumbled dried oregano, or 3 tbsp. fresh oregano 

¼ tsp. cinnamon

1½ tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp. dried chipotle powder

1 tsp. coarse salt, or to taste

2 cups diced canned tomatoes

1 cup strong brewed medium to dark roast coffee

3-4 cups beef or vegetable broth

Optional garnishes:

Sour cream, shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, chopped fresh cilantro, diced onion, diced and pickled hot peppers and diced avocado

1. Prepare the dried black beans by putting them in a saucepan and covering with water. Bring the water to a boil, then turn off the heat, cover the pan and soak until tender. Drain and discard the soaking liquid prior to adding the beans to the chili. For canned beans, drain and rinse.

2. In a medium soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add the stew meat or round steak cubes and cook until nicely browned on all sides. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Add the onions and garlic to the pan with the meat and sauté until the onions are soft and translucent. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, cocoa powder, chipotle powder and salt. Cook one minute, stirring, then add tomatoes, beans and coffee. Cover and simmer for one to one and a half hours, stirring periodically. Both the meat and beans should be tender. 

4. Remove the lid and simmer until thickened to your liking. Adjust the seasoning to your taste. Serve with the toppings of your choice and corn tortillas, cornbread or corn muffins.