This recipe comes together quickly if you have all your ingredients prepared. Sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly industrious, when I get home from the grocery store on Sunday I’ll take the time to prep all the things for the week’s meals I have planned. This greatly increases the odds I’ll actually cook everything I planned and am less likely to order in when feeling lazy. (I mean, if you have 3 meals that week calling for chopped onions, might as well spend 10 minutes chopping enough for all three meals at one time). After chopping everything, I measure out ingredients into baggies and prep bowls and organize according to dish. Notice I said when I’m feeling industrious – I’m not anal enough to do this every weekend, although I’m usually pretty happy with the outcome when I take the time to do this (even if it means a few extra hours in the kitchen on Sunday). Also, having pre-chopped mirepoix (or soffrito or other cultural equivalent) mixture ready makes it easy to invent stuff on the spot, like the soup I have here. It all came about because I had a big baggie of chopped carrots, celery and onion ready to go. I added the bell peppers because I needed to use them and was really happy with the flavor. Plus, everything looked so pretty in the pot while I was sautéing! Hence the name.
One more note – all amounts are approximate to taste. I’m really wildly guessing here to give people a ballpark figure. Use your best judgment if something seems off, especially if you need more or less stock.
Confetti Black Bean Soup
4 pieces of bacon (turkey/meatless substitutes are fine; may omit entirely if you’re really boring)
2 stalks celery, finely chopped (approx. ½ cup)
2 carrots, finely chopped (approx ½ cup)
White or yellow onion, finely chopped, approx ¾ cup
2 cloves garlic, minced (I cheat and use a garlic press)
½ red bell pepper, finely chopped; plus additional 2 tablespoons finely minced for garnish
½ yellow bell pepper, finely chopped; plus additional 2 tablespoons finely minced for garnish
Low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
1 can black beans
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 small container plain non-fat yogurt
Fry up bacon in a large dutch oven or stock pot on the stove. Remove, reserving fat in pot. Crumble bacon and set aside. Add enough olive oil to bacon fat left in pan to total approx. 3 tablespoons. Add carrots and celery and sauté for about 5-7 minutes. Add onions, garlic and bell peppers. Sauté for another 5 minutes. (The pot looks like colorful confetti at this point, hence the name). Add enough stock to cover vegetables, 2-3.5 cups. Add beans and red pepper flakes (to taste). Bring to boil; reduce to simmer and cook for 10-12 minutes, until all vegetables are soft. Remove from heat. Stir in yogurt. Puree beans and vegetables until smooth, using an immersion blender. Or, using slotted spoon, transfer beans and vegetables and enough broth to facilitate pureeing to blender. (Be careful blending hot foods!) Leave center in blender lid open and cover with a towel (covering completely can cause pressure to build up and contents to explode). In batches, blend until smooth and return to pot. Stir to combine and simmer until heated through. To serve, ladle into bowls and top with dollop of yogurt (or sour cream). Sprinkle with crumbled bacon and reserved minced bell peppers. Serves 4-5. As with most soups, the flavor improved somewhat the next day, but I was really happy with the way it tasted right off the stove.