Thursday, August 9, 2007

Black bean broth

Sometimes leftovers are a pain.

But sometimes, just sometimes, they are a boon.

Tinned beans are a thing of the past around here since the purchase last year of a good quality, sturdy and, most importantly, safe pressure cooker. In less than half an hour we can have perfectly cooked cannellini beans, tossed while still warm with a finely chopped mixture of garlic, fresh parsley and pine nuts. In twenty minutes, black (turtle) beans are ready for a chilli, heartily spiced then served with shards of oven-crisped pita bread, dollops of cold, thick yoghurt and creamy avocado dice.

Quite often though, I look at the broth the beans have cooked in and despair just a little. It’s full of flavour; full of goodness. Though tipping the liquid onto the garden is an option, the one most often resorted to, wastage of late has made me feel, well, wasteful. Maybe I'm getting old.

Last nights’ chilli yielded a delicious and workable amount of broth, flavoured with kombu (I always cook beans, regardless of cuisine, with a small piece to help digestion), 2 whole shallots and a large pinch of asafetida powder. Some of the beans dissolved just a little, satisfyingly thickening the whole, and I deliberately held back a spoonful of the beans to make something today. A soup, cooked with a large handful of tender, shredded gai laan (Chinese broccoli) leaves and topped with a sweet/spicy salsa. It’s great. Greater still is the peace of mind actually using leftovers can bring.

gai laan leaves

Black bean broth with greens and salsa
This is one of those flexible recipes therefore it is difficult to give exact quantities. It’s dependent entirely on just how much bean broth you have leftover – so gauge your servings as your hunger dictates. One litre (1 quart) or so of broth will feed two to three people quite happily. Reserve a large spoonful of the beans and place them back into the broth until you’re ready to cook the next day– it will give the soup a little more body. Use any greens you like. Spinach, silverbeet (chard) or sorrel would all work as well as the gai laan leaves.

½ avocado, peeled and diced
Small handful of cherry tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons of cumin seeds, ground
1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped
Leftover broth from cooking black (turtle) beans
A large spoonful of the beans (optional)
A large handful or 2 of greens
1 tablespoon of tamari, or more, to taste
Bread, toasted, to serve

To make the salsa, mix the diced avocado, tomatoes and sweet chilli sauce together in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the onion and cook over a medium heat until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the cumin and garlic, stir fry for a minute then pour in the bean broth and reserved black beans. Scrape the bottom of the pan to release any golden bits and bring to the boil.

Meanwhile, shred the greens into ribbons. When the soup boils, reduce the heat to a simmer and add the greens. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until the greens are tender. Add tamari to taste and simmer for a moment or two longer. Taste and add a little more tamari if you feel it is needed. Serve in deep bowls with a large helping of salsa spooned on top.

gai laan, flowering


shula said...

Just beautiful.

Anh said...

I made some black bean soup for today dinner, too! I used my slow cooker from the morning, so the soup was ready after work... I added a bit of smoke paprika when frying the onion, and it was very nice.

I will try your version since I love love gailan!

IronEaters said...

it sounds so healthy! n the pics r lovely.

Rose said...

Never worked with black beans before. You turned them into such a luscious dish.

winedeb said...

This all sounds so lovely. I have debated about a pressure cooker..they scare me. Regarding your leftover broth, I like to cook rice in broth instead of water or do a half and half combination. Although, the color could be interesting from those beans unless you use a wild rice.

Shaun said...

Lucy - It is gratifying to use leftovers. Eric's mum is a genius at it; I'm forever learning from her. The Italians, too, make for great inspiration. I don't make bean dishes that often because Eric doesn't really like them, but this makes me miss them. And I love the touch of cumin, always a weakness for me!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Lucy, I love your trick of leaving a few beans in the broth overnight for more body. Did you come upon that yourself or did you read it somewhere? Regardless, it's something I'll do from now on, and I thank you! I've got to admit a deplorable hole in my education: I've never heard of kombu or asafetida. I'm off to look them up now.

Susan said...

Do I see cumin seeds under the stern taskmaster of a marble pestle? I enjoy my spice grinder, but there's nothing like the instant powdery cloud of spice vapors rising from the mortar. You know, Lucy, I have never had ANY luck properly preparing dry pulses; they are always either too sticky, loosing their skins, or never softening to the point of intact tenderness. I think I'll have to invest in a pressure cooker (haven't used one in years!), but I suspect it's the only way. As a rule, I rely on the tinned.

Lucy said...

Ta, Shula.

How funny Anh! Must be the weather. Don't you adore smoked paprika?

It is Ironeaters, but not overwhelmingly so...

You know Rose, I actually prefer them to kidney beans. And their colour is gorgeoeus.

Ah, Deb, I was scared initially too! I remember years ago stories of exploding dinners, but the new ones are incredibly safe. Wild rice cooked in this broth would be WONDERFUL. Great idea!

Isn't it Shaun? It seems to something of a lost artform the creative use of leftovers, a sign perhaps of the times in which we live. Pleased you're a cumin fan too - I seem to go through buckets of the stuff!

I did come up with it myself Amanda, totally by (happy) accident. Glad it appeals to you! Kombu is a Japanese seaweed, much favoured by Macrobiotic cooks, used for it's ability to enhance digestion. Ditto for asafetida and Indian cooking, though make sure you stand well back when opening the tin - it's a VERY powerful fragrance...I use both to eliminate any um, potentially unwanted digestive reactions!

It's such trial and error Susan, such a pain to try and get right. I have waited for up to 6 hours for chickpeas that didn't yield. I do have tins for emergencies, though that said, I wonder what kind of 'emergencies' I would have here that woul be bean related...anyway, Claudia Roden uses tinned as a rule too. They are cumin seeds - well observed! I love that fragrance. I can give you some tips about cooking beans in the pressure cooker, should the urge take hold.

kathryn said...

Beautiful recipe Lucy. I'm very interested to hear you use a pressure cooker. I've been umm-ing and ahh-ing about buying one for months now. My mum had one when I was little and it still seems like slightly 70s, old-fashioned cooking thing. However, I'm a big bean lover, so would also be very useful. I think you've convinced me.


Lucy said...

They remind me of cooking in the 70's too Kathryn! Part of the heavy, brown old fashioned vegetarian cookery. But for beans cooked quickly (and without those dodgy plastics in the lining of the tin), it can't be beaten. A slow cooker would no doubt be great as well, but I'm not always so good at prepping in the morning...

Johanna said...

love your pics of the black beans - I have been yearning for black beans and finally bought a tin which was a disappointment - maybe a pressure cooker would be a better way to go, although I find them a little scary like winedeb! and always love hearing about using up some leftovers - great soup!

Wendy said...

Gorgeous pictures yet again. I'm a sucker for any kind of bean soups and have never tried black beans. Will keep this on file for Autumn. :)

Aurélie said...

Gorgeous photos. I love bean broth (all sorts) in soups. They give them a heartier and creamier taste and texture.