At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the slow cooker is great for this time of year (I swear that’s the last time I’ll say that until next October… maybe). One of my favourite things about it, apart from the fact that you can end up with a home-cooked meal after only five minutes of effort, is that if you leave it on for long enough, certain things cook down so much that they become pretty much invisible. Now obviously this isn’t always a good thing, but when you’re trying to hide vegetables – either from picky kids or just from yourself – it’s perfect. Hiding in this black bean soup, there are two big carrots (which when grated seem to almost fill the slow cooker on their own), half a bag of spinach, and a whole red pepper. The carrot especially seems to disappear into thin air. It’s a great way to pack extra nutrients into a soup without compromising its simplicity.
I left mine chunky because that’s how I like it, and seeing little flecks of green and red in my soup doesn’t put me off (considering I put the vegetables in myself, it would be a bit odd if it did). However if you really want to deny their very existence, you could always blend your soup before serving so that nobody suspects a thing.
You can serve this however you like – the soup itself is vegan, but you can add whatever toppings you fancy. I like to break up some tortilla chips into it for a bit of crunch, and obviously some cheese. Or even better, some melted cheese! Yesssss. This recipe makes 4 generous portions, and since it’s already been cooked to oblivion, it’s just as good reheated the next day – pop some cheese on top before you reheat it, and it’ll get nice and melty. It’s definitely the sort of soup that will make you smile every time you remember it’s waiting for you in the fridge.
I actually only tried black beans for the first time a year or two ago. I never really saw them in the shops until then – even now, I have to go to the ‘world foods’ section of the supermarket to find them! But now I can’t get enough, and I seem to stick another couple of tins in my trolley every time I go shopping. If you’re as much of a black bean fanatic as I am, you should also try these other black bean recipes:
There are more around here if you search hard enough but I think I’d better stop there, hard as it is.
- 225g carrots, grated (around 2 medium carrots)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red pepper, finely diced
- 40g spinach, chopped (do this quite finely if you're trying to hide it!)
- 2 x 400g tin black beans, drained (240g each when drained)
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 400g tin refried beans
- 1tsp smoked paprika
- 2tsp hot chilli powder
- 200ml water
- Black pepper
- Optional toppings: chopped fresh coriander (highly recommended!), grated cheese, crumbled tortilla chips, sour cream
- Combine all ingredients apart from your toppings in your slow cooker, and cook for around 8 hours on medium. If desired, blend before serving and add your chosen toppings.