For someone who likes peace and quiet as much as I do, I sure am bad at being home all by myself.
The boys stayed overnight at their friends' house last night, which meant the house was empty. Very empty. Very silent. Very still.
I walked up the stairs. Back down the stairs. Into their bedroom (which is weirdly clean right now, because they made me very angry two days ago and chose to atone for their misdeeds by tidying the heck out of their room, unasked). Into the living room (where there was no sign of boyness, save a Tintin book casually cast aside). And, finally, after several hours of rattling around like the last jellybean in the jar... into the kitchen.
Where I found solace in making this soup. It goes together startlingly quickly and tastes better the longer it simmers.
I had a half-batch of black beans that I'd frozen a couple of months ago and then stuck in the refrigerator to thaw a few days ago. As a result, they were already pretty mushy/creamy and perfect for soupmaking. If you're using freshly cooked-from-dried or canned black beans, you might want to pull some of them out at the end of simmering time and mash or puree them, then return them to the pot.
The nicest thing about this soup? I timed it just right so that it was ready to eat when Jim got home from work at a little after midnight last night. Because any soup tastes better with company.
(Oh, and the second nicest thing about this soup? The corn cakes I made to go with it, which were, quite honestly, a revelation. Soup is always better with some nice carbo-riffic side to soak it up with, and these took under ten minutes start to finish. Also, they were so delicious we made another batch today to go with today's soup, which you will hear about tomorrow.)
Black Bean-Salsa Verde Soup
Serves about six, I suppose
4 ounces bacon, diced, or 2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced fairly small
1/2 tsp salt
3 to 4 cups cooked black beans (that would be 2 cans, drained, rinsed and re-drained, if you're using canned)
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup salsa verde (I used the Trader Joe's kind--it worked great)
Juice of 1/2 lime
Salt and pepper to taste
Sour cream, for serving
If using bacon: place bacon in a cold soup pot, put over medium heat and cook, stirring regularly, until bacon is crisp; remove with a slotted spoon and reserve; pour off all but 2 Tbsp fat; return pot to medium heat.
If using olive oil: heat over medium heat. Wasn't that easy?
Either way: add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until tender and translucent, about 7 minutes.
Add salt, beans, broth, salsa verde and reserved bacon, if using. Bring to a boil; reduce to a barest simmer; cook uncovered for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally; then cover and cook until beans are nice and fall-apart-y. I'd recommend at least half an hour total of gentle simmering time, though more would certainly not hurt.
If you like, scoop out half the beans, puree or mash them and return them to the soup. If the beans are tender enough on their own (or if you've cooked, frozen and thawed them, as I did), don't bother.
Whisk in lime juice; taste and correct salt and pepper. Serve with dollops of sour cream atop, accompanied by
From The Simpler The Better: Sensational Home Cooking in 3 Easy Steps by Leslie Revsin
1 cup yellow cornmeal (yesterday, I actually used fine-ground white cornmeal and it was fine; today, coarse-ground yellow polenta, also fine)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1-1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp butter, melted
Additional melted butter (about 1 Tbsp) for greasing the pan
Combine cornmeal and baking soda in a medium bowl.
In a small bowl, beat the egg. Whisk in remaining ingredients, except for, of course, the pan-greasing butter.
At this point, you can set everything aside until you're ready to start cooking the cakes. When that time arrives, stir wet into dry ingredients.
Heat a large, pref. cast-iron skillet over medium heat. When it's good and hot, brush with a little melted butter (it should sizzle). Pour batter by scant quarter-cupfuls onto skillet; you should be able to fit in four at a time.
Cook just until bubbles start to appear in center of each cake, about 2-3 minutes. Flip (easier said than done) and cook for about 1 minute more on the other side, until nicely browned. Remove to a plate, place plate in warm oven and repeat with remaining batter.
We got 12 cakes from each batch of batter; feel free to increase or decrease the amount as you see fit.
The boys came back today. Apparently they stayed up so late last night (4 a.m., they claim) that they were not only useless for the rest of the day, but fell asleep about half an hour after getting home. Fisher was out for almost two hours. Rhys is still asleep. Think he'll make it all night, or is he going to wake up at 2 a.m. and want something to eat?