Last week when I started up this series on good eating for bad financial times, I mentioned roasting, which magically makes just about anything tastier on the cheap. This week, I want to throw in a good word for beans.
Packed with protein and fiber (nutritionists love ‘em!), readily available, totally cheap (even cheaper if you soak and cook the dried ones), vegetarian-friendly and delicious for breakfast, lunch or dinner, beans are classic in haut cuisine and poverty fare alike.
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that legumes/pulses have sustained generations of people across this planet for thousands of years. Why not try to work a few extra into your diet?
Here’s ten classic ways to make beans a part of your week:
And here’s one more just for good measure: a classic Black Bean Soup. It’s what I’m eating this week. It’s really easy to make this one vegetarian, dairy-free or meatatarian, as you prefer.
Classic Black Bean Soup
2 cups dried black beans, washed
1 bay leaf
4 strips thick-cut bacon, diced OR 1 Tbsp olive oil*
1 fresh jalapeño, sliced into rounds
2 large onions, diced
2 green bell peppers, seeded and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
Sour cream or plain yogurt (optional), for serving
Chopped cilantro or scallions (optional), for serving
- Soak the beans overnight.
- The next day cover the beans with additional water to bring the level by 1 inch above the beans. Add the bay leaf, cover and bring to a boil.
- Turn down the heat to a low simmer, and cook until the beans test tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- *If using bacon, cook that now, remove it from the pan (to drain) when done, and use the bacon fat to cook the veggies instead of using olive oil. If making a vegetarian soup, add the olive oil to a deep skillet and heat over a medium flame.
- Add the onions and green peppers and sauté until softened, about 12 minutes. 6. Stir in the garlic and cook a few minutes more.
- Add the tomatoes and simmer 10 minutes.
- When the beans are tender, add in the vegetable mixture (and diced bacon, if using). Let simmer another 20 minutes.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, or refrigerate and reheat the following day to enjoy it after the flavors have melded a bit.