Saturday, July 2, 2011

Vegetarian Navy Bean Soup - Latin Style

Lately I have been adapting a more vegetarian diet and have been experimenting with adapting many recipes. Today I made a vegetarian version of Navy Bean Soup, a regular on the tables of many Miami Latins as well as many Miami restaurants. This version is completely vegan and lacking none of the flavor of the original. It is easy to make and uses inexpensive ingredients. I cook the beans overnight in a crockpot but you can cook them on the stove as well.  Then I make the suffrito and add the cooked beans to it. Suffrito is a mixture of onions, garlic and bell pepper cooked together with tomatoes and used to flavor soups and bean dishes. Give this soup a try and this will become a regular on your table.

1 package dried navy beans ( about 14 oz usually)
1 bay leaf
1 clove of garlic, lightly smashed
1 tsp liquid smoke

Olive oil for sauteing (about 3 tablespoons)
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion, like Peruvian or Vidalia
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 can ( about 3/4 cup) petite diced tomatoes or fresh chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
pinch red pepper flake (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 potatoes peeled and cut into large chunks
1 medium ripe plantain (golden yellow with a little black) cut into chunks
2 cups fresh greens chopped (spinach, swiss chard, kale, etc.) or about 2/3 cup frozen greens
Handful fresh parsley, cilantro or culantro for garnish (optional)

Soak the beans overnight or all day in ample water. Make sure beans are covered by several inches as they will swell as they soak. After soaking time is complete, pour off soaking water and rinse beans a few times. Add fresh water to cover a few inches, add 1 crushed garlic clove, liquid smoke, and 1 bay leaf. Cook in your slowcooker all day or overnight, until the beans are tender. Alternatively, cook on the stove top a few hours until the beans are tender. The amount of cooking time will depend on the age of the beans - the older they are the longer the cook time.
When the beans are done, off heat, remove bay leaf and garlic clove, and set aside. Make the suffrito. In a dutch oven or a pan large enough to hold the soup, saute onions in olive oil until soft. Add green pepper and cook a few minutes, until soft. Add minced garlic, dried herbs, cumin and salt and pepper. Saute a moment and add tomatoes. Cook a few minutes, stirring. Add potato chunks and some of the liquid from the beans. Cover and cook until potatoes are barely tender. Add plantain chunks and cook until they are soft and cooked through. Add the cooked navy beans and their liquid, along with the greens and stir to mix everything together. Let cook for about 15 minutes so the flavors can come together. Garnish will fresh herbs if desired. Serve as is or over a bit of plain white rice.

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