Tuesday, April 12, 2011

On Food Hoarding and Black Bean Soup

How do you make dinner after a 3 day Chicago work trip followed by a weekend filled with 5 performances of “Sleeping Beauty,” followed by a Monday catching up with work and watching 5 kids after school so there’s been no time to grocery shop?   Be a food hoarder like me.

I get food hoarding from my mother, who grew up poor in China despite her father’s Ph.D. from Harvard.  She stocks every nook and cranny of our home with cans, snacks and condiments so that whenever any of us kids goes home, we spend a day or two emptying the home of expired and rotten food. 

I also grew up feeling poor because my father was a physics professor instead of a doctor or lawyer or Waikiki developer like all my friends at Punahou.  I’m also just a little addicted to good food, so to my shame, like Mama, I have an inordinate need to stash pantry staples and chocolate so I can feel safe and secure.

Here's what they actually look like!  Mmmmm
It used to drive my roommate crazy that my pound of See’s dark chocolate marzipans that can only be bought on the West Coast or Hawaii would take up room in our tiny NYC refrigerator for a year.  And I was selfish—only doling out chocolates if I wanted one.  By the end of the year, the marzipan was all dried out.  I trust that Jesus lives in my heart, but a box of See’s dark marzipans living in the corner of my fridge gives just that extra little boost.

Unfortunately, these days my kids sneak my stash of chocolate no matter where I hide it so that when I finally want a nibble I’ll find only an empty bag where Lindt 60% dark chocolate peppermint truffles used to reside.  Scott gives no sympathy because I’m not supposed to be eating chocolate anyway since we’re on this perpetual diet in our attempt to fight the ‘40s flab.

As an MBA, Scott points out that my Chinese need to have a lot of inventory around is actually poor financial stewrdship.  But that Monday, I felt justified.  Digging around I found:

·      Almost slimy but still edible cilantro and scallions
·      2 lbs of dried black beans
·      3 shriveled but not rotten red peppers
·      almost sprouting onions and garlic
·      whole wheat tortillas (I buy 7 packages at a time from trader joe’s and throw them in the deep freeze)
·      Chicken broth
·      Canned tomatoes and Rotel
·      very old frozen corn that I forgot we had
·      spices
·      3 almost rock hard limes
·      a 2 week old avocado that held up well because it was in the fridge not the counter

Not my soup, but mine looks very similar!
Black bean & Tortilla soup!!

Epicurious.com had a 4 fork recipe--who cares if I lacked some of the key ingredients?  I made do with what I had.

And the family LOVED the soup!  They raved about the soup!  They made me feel like I was a culinary genius.  Most importantly, NO ONE COMPLAINED!

In the past 2 weeks, I’ve fed that soup to my writing group, the Boston Faculty Fellowship, and the Harvard Mark manuscript Bible study leaders. 

But don’t worry if you're one of those who ate the latest iteration of soup, I bought fresh vegetables before feeding you. . .

Black Bean and Tortilla Soup
Serves about 8-10

2 lbs dried black beans, boiled and softened, or 8 15 oz. cans of black beans
1 Tbs.  oil
2 large onions
10 cloves garlic
3 red peppers, diced
1 jalapeno minced (optional, I didn't have it)
2 Tbs. cumin
1 Tbs. chili powder
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 can Rotel tomatoes/chilis or 1 can green chilis and 1 can diced tomatoes
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups frozen corn
5 Whole wheat tortillas cut into 1x 2 inch strips
8-16 Tbs. chopped cilantro
Juice of 3-4 limes
Salt to taste

Optional Garnishes:
Diced avocado
Minced scallion or red onion
Sour cream
Cilantro leaves
Shredded jack cheese

Note:  If boiling your own dried black beans, add 1/2 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp. salt to the cooking liquid to keep the beans black and intact
1.     Saute onions in oil until softened.  Add red peppers, cumin, cayenne, chili powder, garlic, and sauté until peppers are softened. 
2.     Add black beans, Rotel or canned chilis, chicken broth, and bring to a simmer
3.     Remove 1/3 of the soup and puree it in blender or with stick blender, return to soup
4.     Add frozen corn and cilantro
5.      When soup is boiling and several minutes before serving, add tortillas
6.     Add lime juice just before serving
7.     Serve soup and pass around garnishes


Ling said...

is that your no-food modified recipe, or the recipe thats online?

Kathy Tuan-MacLean said...

What's a no-food modified recipe? The recipe I published is the one we ate--the one I modified from the epicurious recipe.