Beans are loaded with fibre, a characteristic that is associated with lowering the risk of diabetes, obesity, cancer and heart disease. They are a source of protein, and in great part due to this & due to the astonishing amount of fibre they contain, you digest them very slowly so you feel full longer... they give you energy for longer, releasing it slowly, helping to level out spikes in blood sugar. They lower cholesterol. They're loaded with protective antioxidants, phytochemicals and vitamins. In short, they're a super food! (And right up there in the 150 Healthiest Foods On Earth). To read up on all of the fascinating health benefits, and believe me, the evidence presented is astounding!) read more in that book.
Do not be intimidated by dried beans. It is super easy to prepare them at home, and by not relying on the canned beans at the grocery store you are doing a few good things:
- Your beans have a far better texture and are not mushy in your prepared dishes.
- There is not as much environmental waste (the tins that you throw out), and their weight, transported in a tinned state, is far greater than their dry weight when it comes to the space & fuel used in trucking them to your local grocery store over long distances.
- You reduce your sodium intake (it's used as a preservative in the tinned beans and you can eliminate that entirely on the home front).
- You create more storage in your pantry shelf at home.
- You are saving yourself money (dried beans cost a few pennies... I know the penny doesn't exist anymore, but dried beans are one of the few food items in the pantry that can be that cheap!).
|Look at the price tags... for almost 1lb bags!|
|This would look even better with the cilantro in it!|
The salsa makes this soup, so don't leave it out! There's something about the hot & the cold (the soup & the salsa/yogurt), the smooth (yogurt & soup) & the crunch (onions & peppers), the creamy (soup & yogurt) & the tart & tangy (the lime salsa) that work so well in this recipe. On their own, the two parts of this soup are average at best... but together they're wonderful.
Makes 10 servings
1 lb. (500g) dried black beans
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (I leave these out)
juice of a lime
To make this soup absolutely divine, coarsely chop a pound of mushrooms (Portobellos & creminis, for eg.) and thinly wedge a red onion. Sauté in a pat of butter & a splash of olive oil & a few grinds of a pepper mill. When the liquid starts to come out of the mushrooms & the volume decreases, add about 1/2 c. red wine & simmer slowly until all of the liquid is absorbed. Heap a mound of mushrooms in the bottom of each soup bowl. Ladle in soup to cover & top as usual with salsa & yogurt. It is divine!
Recipe adapted slightly from The Best of HeartSmart Cooking, by Bonnie Stern, p. 101