Going meatless

Beans are a great alternative for meat or meat analog protein sources. As with other legumes, they are a very good source of antioxidants and cholesterol-lowering fiber, which have been shown to lower the risk of coronary heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

In addition to its beneficial effects on the digestive system and the heart, black beans' soluble fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels. If you have insulin resistance, hypoglycemia or diabetes, black beans can really help you balance blood sugar levels while providing steady, slow-burning energy.

Smoky Black Bean Soup
Serves 6


The deep red-brown of this soup makes it a color cousin to Mexican molé sauce. It makes a dramatic presentation when topped with tortilla strips, avocado chunks and Lime Cream. Chipotle chiles packed in adobo sauce are available in most large supermarkets. Any canned, diced tomatoes will work well, but the fire-roasted variety sends this soup over the top.

• 2 Tbs. olive oil
• 1 medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
• 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
• 1/2 medium green pepper, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 tsp. ground cumin
• 1 tsp. dried oregano
• 1 1/2 cups black beans, soaked and drained
• 14 and 1/2-oz. can diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted
• 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
• 2 Tbs. sherry
• 3 corn tortillas, cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
• 1/2 ripe avocado, cut into small dice
• Lime Cream (recipe below)

1. In large pot, heat 1 Tbs. oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery and green pepper, and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, cumin and oregano, and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.

2. Add beans and 6 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, until beans are tender, about 1 3/4 hours. Add 1 1/2 tsp. salt.

3. With slotted spoon, transfer 1 cup beans to food processor or blender. Add tomatoes and chipotles, and process until smooth. Return mixture to pot. Stir in sherry, increase heat and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer about 15 minutes to reduce liquid.

4. Meanwhile, in large nonstick skillet, heat remaining 1 Tbs. oil over medium heat. Add tortilla strips in batches, and toss frequently and gently (for best results, use tongs) to brown evenly, about 3 minutes. Adjust heat as necessary. Remove to paper towels to blot excess oil.

5. Place tortilla strips, avocado and Lime Cream in separate small bowls. Serve soup hot with garnishes along side.

To make this soup in a pressure cooker, heat 1 Tbs. oil in pressure cooker. Add onion, celery and green pepper. Cook, stirring often, over medium-low heat until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, cumin and oregano, and cook another few minutes, until fragrant. Add beans and 4 cups water, and cover. Bring to a boil, lock lid into place, and bring to high pressure. Cook over high pressure 15 minutes. Turn off heat, and let beans return to pressure naturally. Remove lid, and add 1 1/2 tsp. salt. Proceed with Step 3, above.

Lime Cream
Makes 1 cup

This cooling cream is a great contrast to the spicy soup and makes a great all-purpose condiment.
• 6 oz. soft silken tofu
• 2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
• 2 Tbs. vegetable oil
• 2 tsp. brown rice vinegar
• 1 tsp. lime peel
• 1/4 tsp. white pepper

1. Combine tofu, lime juice, oil, vinegar, lime peel, pepper and 1/2 tsp. salt in bowl of food processor. Process until smooth. Transfer to small container, and cover.

2. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes.

Recipe source: www.vegetariantimes.com

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