It’s that time of year again when I live on soup. When I dig out the stored-up bones in the freezer from the spring and summer, and combine the resulting stock with local beans and late season vegetables like kale and sweet potatoes. This recipe for Cuban black bean and sweet potato soup came from The Chopra Center Cookbook by Dr. Deepak Chopra, a practitioner of the Ayurvedic health traditions of India. I’ve been reading up on the different ways one might modify one’s lifestyle to reduce the risk of a cancer recurrence. You know, just to educate myself on the different philosophies in case I might be open to any lifestyle adjustments at all. It’s unclear at the moment. Especially if it means not eating so much Halloween candy. But I’m always open to soup. Soup seemed, at the very least, an okay place to start. Except that I think we can use an entire tablespoon of oil for that whole big pot of soup, maybe two, instead of the meager 1 teaspoon called for in the recipe. Sheesh.
Cuban Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup It seems like a lot of black pepper, I know. I held back at first, but then I ended up adding all the rest of it in at the end. It works. 1 cup black beans, sorted, rinsed, and soaked overnight in water 2 bay leaves 1 Tbsp. olive oil 1 cup leeks or onions, diced 1 cup celery, diced 2 Tbsp. soy sauce 1 tsp. black pepper 1 cup carrots, diced 1 large sweet potato, peeled, cut into ½-inch cubes 2 tsp. cumin 1 tsp. cinnamon 1 tsp. oregano 1 pinch red pepper flakes 1 cup diced tomatoes (from a can is fine) 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock 2 cups torn kale ½ cup cilantro, chopped Salt and pepper to taste Drain and rinse the soaked beans and place in a large pot. Cover with water by several inches, add the bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until soft (about 1 hour for my beans). Reserve 1 cup of bean stock, then drain off the rest and set beans aside, discarding bay leaves. In the same pot, heat the oil. Add the leeks, celery, soy sauce, and pepper, and simmer for about 3 minutes. Add the carrots, sweet potato, cumin, cinnamon, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Sauté for 5 minutes, letting mixture brown slightly. Add the beans and the tomatoes. Simmer a few more minutes, and then add the stock and reserved bean cooking liquid. Add water if the liquid doesn’t cover the contents of the pot. Simmer the soup until the sweet potatoes are soft. Add the greens and stir to wilt in the hot soup. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with cilantro just before serving.
Local Sources: Sweet potatoes, carrots, leeks: Waltham Fields, Waltham, MA Black beans: Baer’s Best (Moraine Farm), Beverly, MA (via Russo’s) Chicken bones for stock: Chestnut Farms, Hardwick, MA