Easy black bean stew: a soup rich in plant-based proteins
Time: prep. 10 mins
cook. tot 30 min
Difficulty: very easy
Yields: 2 portions
Easy black bean stew is a surprisingly nutrient-rich dish even without using meat and manages to satiate without weighing down the stomach or the conscience.
We often forget the importance of plant-based protein and how easy and delicious it can be to reach our daily requirements (read more about it here).
In fact, the right mix of spices and vegetables among the ingredients enhances the mildly sweet taste of the black beans and adds more phytonutrients in your spoon: this thick soup is both a wellness powerhouse and a complete dish.
Black beans are cardioprotective
As I explained in the recipe for savory cheesecake with black beans, these legumes, in addition to being as high in protein as others in the same family, are particularly beneficial for people with cardiovascular disease: they contain the anti-inflammatory substance quercetin, which is useful for reducing the risk of atherosclerosis and protecting against damage caused by low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the so-called bad cholesterol.
The benefits also extend to those who are as healthy like a horse: the flavonoids present (catechin, quercetin, myricetin and kaempferol) are perfect antioxidants and have the peculiarity of fighting free radicals; in fact even though we are well careful with our diet we are still loaded with these health-damaging substances (simply breathing the air of a big city at rush hour is enough).
Easy black bean stew is ready in minutes
Health benefits aside, easy black bean stew can also be the right solution for those on the run.
In case you use already boiled black beans, it takes just 10 minutes in the pressure cooker (in the regular pot consider 20 min).
For convenience, I always cook a larger quantity of legumes than I need, so that I can use them when I am most pressed for time; such a good habit also comes back providentially directly to those on a low budget: do you know the prices of frozen legume soups sold in supermarkets? A package, passed off as 2-3 servings (barely satiating a hungry person), can cost 7 times as much.
In case you want to use dried black beans instead, I recommend reading this guide, which is very helpful in reducing anti-nutrients and cooking time (thus cost).
The other ingredients of the easy black bean stew I’m proposing today are just as “proletarian,” and all together they create such a harmony of taste, that they rival even MSG (monosodium glutamate)-rich bouillons: try it for yourself.
Ingredients for easy black bean stew
150g dried black beans or about 300g already cooked black beans
1 stalk of celery
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons of bottled tomato chunks
150 – 200ml bean cooking water, or vegetable broth, or water
1 clove of garlic
1 pinch of thyme
4 bay leaves
3-4 juniper berries
5-6 black peppercorns
As already anticipated, in case you have ready-made beans on hand, you only need to prepare the sauté of veggies (in Italian they call it soffritto).
Otherwise, cook the black beans previously soaked for at least overnight (I prefer long soaking, as I explain here), changing the water 2-3 times. Cook them in 400ml of water; 20 minutes in pressure cooker would be enough (in a regular pot consider double time and 600ml of water).
Cut the sauté vegetables into small cubes.
For a good and healthy soffritto, I recommend cooking the beloved trio of vegetables (celery, carrots and onions) over low heat, along with a mixture of water and extra virgin olive oil: they would certainly taste better using only the oil and in abundance; however, in my kitchen, priority is given to nutrients, rather than to overpowering flavor (it must be said, however, that these two often coincide without problems); and if I then ensure even fewer calories to be disposed of, it will have been a happy, admittedly sought-after, coincidence.
One of the most useful tricks for increasing the flavor of dishes is to use aromatic vegetables cut as small as possible: this applies to both soffritto and broth.
Time-consuming, I know, so prepare them in large quantities when you have time, so you can divide them into single portions to freeze; or aim for the right compromise between taste and lack of time; or opt for a food processor (there are also manual models with a cord).
But for no reason in the world do you use the infamous industrial bouillons, unless you want all the industrial ingredients on your plate.
For example, in a well-known brand bouillon, you will find the following ingredients (by law, the ingredient most present is spelled out first; this means that this product is not a concentrate of aromatic vegetables, but rather of salt, fats, flavor enhancers and sugars; vegetables actually make up less than 4 percent): Salt; Vegetable fats (palm, shea butter, sal butter); Flavor enhancers: Monosodium glutamate, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate; Sugar; Yeast extract; Dehydrated vegetables 3.9% (carrots¹ 1.5%, onions¹ powder, tomato¹, peppers¹, leek¹ 0.07%) Dehydrated parsley¹; Spices (celery seed powder, garlic¹ powder, turmeric¹, pepper, dehydrated parsley root¹); Flavors (contain celery); Caramel syrup; Maltodextrin.
Now, considering that instead a good homemade vegetable sauté base consists only of carrots, onion, celery, evo oil and salt, I leave the conclusions to you.
This advice of mine is aimed not only at the health aspect, but also to make you free from the chains of industrial products: once the palate gets used to the exhilarating taste of bouillons, it is complicated to please it with the dulcet and natural ones of genuine homemade food.
So, since it is difficult to stop “liking” things, much better not to start using them at all!
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Once the beans are cooked, prepare the sauté: after about 5 minutes of pressure cooking (or 10 with a regular pot), add the spices and beans.
Add half a cup of the cooking liquid from the beans; however, in the case of canned beans, I recommend draining the preserving liquid and using vegetable stock; or plain water. The amount of water to add is entirely personal: start with half a cup if you want a nice thick soup; increase the amount of water as you go, for a less thick soup.
Let it cook for another 5 minutes (or 10 in the regular pot) so the beans get a good flavor.
Turn off the heat and serve the stewed bean soup in bowls, with a drizzle of raw evo oil, or if desired with a teaspoon of cheese of your liking.
Easy black bean stew is a complete dish because of its rich protein, carbohydrates, fat, fiber, and essential minerals – such as iron, content.
However to better absorb the iron present, I recommend a salad of autumn/winter vegetables, rich in vitamin C (the reasons are explained in this article).
A good stew for me cannot exist without a good bread, alas the latter practically not for sale in supermarkets); whole wheat bread, perhaps homemade and with sourdough, in addition to satiating and delighting the palate by dipping it in the bowl, also provides an excellent source of prebiotics, fuel for probiotics, essential for a good immune system (to learn more I recommend this reading)
Enjoy your easy black bean stew and have a good revolution
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