Soup = stress relief

I don’t know how you handle stress, but I tend to handle it one of two ways.  The first being that I totally shut down, I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, I can’t think.  The second being that I cook and bake and cook and bake and in between I have to clean up the huge messes and sinks full of dirty dishes and utensils.  My mom was just telling me this morning that was always what she did.  Now when she’s stressed, she cleans out the junk drawer or organizes a bookshelf.  I kind of wish that would happen with me, I could only imagine how neatly organized my sock drawer would be, or the basement, or the closets.  Brian doesn’t seem to mind that I cook and bake like crazy though.  Thank goodness for him!

This might sound crazy (I realized that it only sounds crazy to me, ha!), but I’ve had a really nice, peaceful day so far today.  I’ve spent most of it in the kitchen making my hearty black bean soup, and talking with my mom.  I treasure days like today. 

Wanna get the recipe for my hearty black bean soup?  This is one of the recipes that I was talking about a few posts back.  I entered this into our local newspaper’s holiday recipe contest and won!  Today is a cozy (I wish it were even a little bit cooler), overcast kind of day, and it is perfect soup weather.  (I think any day is perfect for soup though)  I wish you could smell how good this soup is making my house smell.

Hearty Black Bean Soup

  • 1 pound dried black beans
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 bunch of  fresh cilantro (approx. 3-4 tablespoons)
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 smoked ham shanks
  • 1 jalapeno, split (optional)
  • 2 quarts low sodium chicken stock
  • salt and fresh cracked black pepper

(Fresh limes and sour cream for recipe for lime crema- below)

Soak beans overnight with enough water to cover, plus one inch.  The next morning,  pick through the beans and discard any debris.  Wash under cold running water. 

In a blender or food processor, add garlic, onion, cilantro and bell pepper.

Set a large pot over medium heat and add enough olive oil to just cover the bottom of the pot.  Add the vegetable puree and cumin.  Sautee until just starting to get fragrant, about 5 minutes.  Add beans, ham shank, jalapeno and chicken stock.  Slightly cover and simmer for 2-3 hours or longer, until beans are tender.  (I sometimes use a crock pot for this step, cooking on low setting, with lid slightly askew, for 4-5 hours).

When cooked, remove ham shank.  Cut ham meat off of the bone, cut into pieces and set aside.

Using a blender, puree just enough of the beans and stock (about 1/3 of the total pot) to thicken up the soup and bring everything together.  Season with salt and pepper and fold ham meat back into the soup.

Serve with a lime wedge, extra garnish of cilantro and lime crema (see below for recipe), if desired.


Lime Crema:     1 cup sour cream and 2 teaspoons lime zest.  Combine and place dollop onto black bean soup.

After proof reading my post, I have come to the conclusion that my description of how I deal with stress sounds a little bipolar, don’t you think?  I’m laughing… laugh with me, please.  Not at me.  Enjoy the soup!


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