Tuesday, September 25, 2012

One Great: Black bean and coconut soup

After a constant round of travel, there wasn't much that was fresh in the refrigerator. So I stared into the cabinet where the cans live, waiting for dinner to magically suggest itself. Canned this, canned that. Nothing that seemed to go together.

Except those black beans and that can of coconut milk. Black beans and coconut milk? They didn't seem to belong together, yet something in the back of my brain thought they might. I tapped the two ingredients into a Google search to see if such a crazy idea had occurred to anyone else.

Why yes, actually. I found Caribbean versions and Southeast Asian versions. I ended up making it a real hybrid with a couple of links of chicken-based Italian sausage there were waiting in the freezer. But you could skip the meat or go with something like leftover grilled chicken.

Seriously, you never know what will happen when you stare into a cabinet.

Black Bean and Coconut Milk Soup

Adapted from my brain and several online recipes.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 or 1 whole diced onion
2 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 or 2 links of Italian sausage, sliced, or 1 cup diced, cooked chicken (optional)
2 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can coconut milk, preferably light
1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (canned or frozen)
1 tablespoon Asian hot sauce, such as sriracha
1 tablespoon peanut butter
2 tablespoons minced cilantro or a squeeze of lime juice (optional)

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, reduce heat to medium-low, and cover. Cook 5 to 10 minutes, until softened. Stir in the garlic and and cumin and cook 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant. If you're using meat, add it, raise the heat to medium-high and saute until just cooked through or reheated.

Stir in the black beans, coconut milk and broth.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 to 15 minutes. If you want a creamier soup, scoop half the beans into a blender and puree (cover the lid with a kitchen towel so it doesn't splash) or use an immersion blender to puree some of the soup. Or skip all that and leave the beans whole. Stir in the hot sauce and peanut butter and cook a few minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve garnished with cilantro or a squeeze of fresh lime juice. .

Makes about 4 servings.