Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Vegan Mofo #14 - Terry’s Cuban Black Bean Soup with Cashew Crema...
Vegan Mofo #14 - Terry’s Cuban Black Bean Soup with Cashew Crema
The Region - Cuba
The Book - Viva Vegan!
The Author -Terry Hope Romero
The Recipe - Cuban Black Bean Soup
Page # 150 Cashew Crema is on page #51
Difficulty - Easy
Duration - About 2 ½ -3 hours - most of it inactive
Today we’re going to stick with our Caribbean theme and talk about Black Bean Soup. I actually don’t know where black bean soup originated, but Terry Hope Romero has it listed as Cuban in her Viva Vegan! Book, and since Cuba is a part of the Caribbean I’m just going with that. You do often hear Black Bean soup being called Cuban Black Bean soup, and since Caribbean Cuisine is such a fusion of Spanish, Caribbean and African cooking that’s good enough for me.
Regardless of where it originated it’s a favorite soup of mine. I used to be really fascinated by Cuban Cuisine before I went vegan and there was a restaurant on Commercial Drive in Vancouver that I used to enjoy, but Cuban food isn’t exactly known for being vegan, and even black bean soup is often made with bacon, ham or bacon grease. The be all and end all of black bean soup for me used to be a delicious version I would get at a Caribbean style restaurant here in Chicago. That version was made with bacon however and so I haven’t had it in years, but I still have a special place in my heart for it’s flavor, and I haven’t made or found a restaurant version of this special soup that can really compare to the beloved one of my pre-vegan days.
Enter Terry’s amazing take on Cuban Black Bean Soup and not only do you have a real winner but a vegan version that can really stand up to it’s non-vegan counterpart, and even beat it I think. The ingredients here are simple enough, black beans, water, salt, bay leaves, olive oil, garlic, onion, green pepper, tomatoes, red wine, oregano, cumin, liquid smoke, red wine vinegar or lime juice and then cashew cream, onion, and cilantro for serving. Though the components are simple enough I think the secret is really in the method. I’ve wanted to make Terry’s version of this soup since I first bought Viva Vegan! But I always found the long cooking time to be daunting. Little did I realize that it really is a necessity, I think it makes all the difference and since most of that time is inactive it really doesn’t seem like such a chore to make. I also think it makes a big difference sauteeing the veggies as a sofrito and then adding them in for the last 35 minutes of cooking, rather then letting them cook directly in the pot as many soups do. I also think the addition of both liquid smoke and wine give it that fermented smoky flavor that most black bean soups have courtesy of animal products. I ended up upping the liquid smoke to double the amount specified and it was perfect.
If it still sounds like a lot of work I recommend making this soup on a lazy morning when you have nothing else to do and while you let it simmer you can read a book, or do some yoga as I did yesterday. It really is worth all of your effort.
For the final product I blended 2 ½ cups of the soup in a blender then poured it back into the pot to get that thick creamy texture, and I made Terry’s Cashew Crema to go along with it. Her Cashew Crema is super easy just cashews, water, lime juice, agave, and salt. This is probably one of the best cashew creams I’ve ever had and I’ve made it several times. It’s perfect for Latin American style meals. Lastly I took her suggestion and garnished my soup with minced cilantro but instead of using raw sweet onion I used sliced green onions because that’s how I prefer my black bean soup.
I really can’t say enough good things about this meal, it brings me back to another time, and transplants me to an Island nation far away. It’s every bit as mouth watering as it looks, and oh so comforting on a slightly chilly, grey, autumn afternoon.