Monday, December 3, 2007

3.12.07: Red and Black Bean

Today, the start of our third month of operations, was quietly significant in the evolution of the Soup Kitchen since Brian O'Neill, senior Resident Involvement Officer let me know that our small grant application to buy equipment has been approved by the Tenants Fund Management Committee. So, I can start buying stuff! Brian came in with a couple of his colleagues from Southwark Council and all three of 'em had second helpings of today's beany soup.

Despite the weather, the Open Yards Weekend seemed to have gone really well and the community art exhibition mounted @ the Pullens Centre, showing works by about two dozen residents, was a great success. Daisy Kelly Granger (below) sang to a packed room on Friday evening and returned on Saturday, somewhat hoarse, to delight a more relaxed house. A really soulful singer, Earl Green, also performed, backed by Les Back on guitar and joined by an amazing harmonica player whose name I didn't get. Cold drinks were served. Which was nice.

Daisy's outfit is by Linda Brooker

Because the weather has been so morose, I thought I'd do a hearty soup, not unlike Day 21's Spicy Bean. Recently, it seems like there's been a dearth of black beans around these parts, but I managed to score a couple of 500g bags in an ethnic grocery down the Walworth Road. Overnight, I soaked 1kg of black beans and 500g of red kidney beans. This morning, I started by washing my hands and boiling my beans, in separate pans, simmering for an hour.

I minced most of a head of garlic - probably ten cloves - and roughly diced one very large onion, starting to cook these in a generous splash of vegetable oil over medium heat at the bottom of the soup pot. I diced half a dozen carrots and half a large and leafy head of celery, adding the diced veg. to the pot, and continued cooking over medium heat with the lid on, stirring every few minutes.

When the veg. mix cooked down and was starting to caramelise, I added about a dessert spoon full of paprika, a teaspoon of chilli powder, a teaspoon of garam masala and a sprinkling of cumin seeds. I mixed these spices into the cooked vegetables, allowing the flavours to mingle for a few minutes before de-glazing the soup pot with red wine. I used the end of a bottle of claret left over from the weekend, boiling off the liquid before adding the secret ingredient: Aci Biber Salçasi.

I used a couple of good-sized scoops of this piquant red pepper paste, stirring them into the cooked mirepoix before adding the red kidney beans and half the black beans, covering them with three litres of Marigold bouillon and bring the pot to the boil. While the pot simmered, I continued to boil the rest of the black beans and, in the pot used for the red beans, I boiled another 500g of urid, black lentils, which take about 25 minutes to boil until soft.

Finally, I assembled the soup. I turned off the heat under the soup pot and left it to stand for ten minutes before blending with Gaynor the stick mixer, adding 100 creamed coconut dissolved in a litre of boiling water. Then I added the separately-cooked black beans and urid and returned the soup to the heat to warm it through before serving with chopped fresh coriander, a swirl of yoghurt and a sprinkle of cumin seeds.

While the soup was cooking this morning, parties of primary school kids from Crampton Street school (which isn't actually in Crampton Street) came in to look at the art exhibition. Among them was Jack, Daisy's youngest brother, who was evidently so tantalised by the aroma that he came back for a bowl after school. Hopefully, he agreed with the verdict written in the log bok, that this one was a hearty, filling, winter-warming sooooop. Jan Pun: truly beanificial.

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