Monday, October 29, 2007

Day 21: Spicy Bean

Never mind what the dictionary says, 'spicy' is wrong. At least, it looks wrong. Of course it should be 'spicey', IMO, but in a spirit of willing co-operation, because it's spelled that was in Debra Mayhew's Soup Bible, and because Natty wrote it that way on the blackboard today, on this occasion I will cheerfully conform with the conventional spelling. Maybe the way forward is to opt for 'spiced'?

In this recipe, the spices in question are cumin and Cayenne pepper. I didn't have any Cayenne and used paprika instead, spiked with a hefty pinch of chilli powder. The recipe also calls for red wine and beef stock. For the stock, I used a jar of Marks & Spencer's concentrated vegetable stock. For the red wine, I used a box of Chilean cab. sav. that's been hanging around the Pullens Centre kitchen since the last Annual General Meeting (and the next AGM is tomorrow!)

Overnight, I soaked 750g of black beans and the same quantity of red kidney beans in two separate bowls and, first thing this morning, I boiled them in two separate pans for an hour. The quantities were determined by the fact that, having trawled the length of Walworth Road, I was only able to buy a single 750g bag of black beans. Still, this 1.5 kg of beans turned out to be just the right amount since all the soup (made with 4 litres of stock) was eaten: another 23 bowls full!

I deviated from the recipe by increasing the quantity of red peppers and reducing the celery in the mirepoix of chopped vegetables that forms the flavour base of this soup, to make it richer. I diced a single very large onion, four or five medium-sized carrots and half a dozen red peppers. Rather than bland bell peppers, I used the more elongated, slightly piquant variety. Heating a little oil in the bottom of the soup pot, I put in the diced vegetables and added the spices, about two dessert spoons full of cumin and the same amount of paprika with a teaspoon of chilli powder.

Once the spice was added, I continued to sweat the diced veg. in the soup pot with the lid on over low heat for a further five minutes or so, stirring every now and then to stop the mix from sticking to the bottom of the pot, which I de-glazed with a glass of red wine before straining the cooked beans and adding them to the soup pot. The M&S concentrated veg. stock makes four pints, or not quite two litres, which is about half what I needed, so I added another two litres of Marigold bouillon to the soup and simmered it for half an hour.

I blended the soup a bit with the Dynamic stick mixer then, while it was still fairly chunky, removed about a quarter of the soup to another pot. I continued to blend the bulk of the soup until it was quite smooth and then returned the chunkier soup to the main pot and mixed it, to give contrasting smooth and slightly chunkier textures. I served it with a dollop of full fat cow's yogurt, which went down very well with just about everyone.
This was a very popular soup on what was a cold, brilliantly clear day. Several people had second bowls and Linda wrote in the log bok, 'the best yet! My favourite so far'.
Soup Maker: Russell
Soup: Spicy Bean
No. of bowls served: 23
Expenditure: £12.66
Donations: £26.87
Running balance: +£179.49

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