May 28, 2008

Frugal Black Bean Rice Soup

It's a gorgeous cool Spring day here -- probably one of our last cool days -- and a good day for planting more seeds in the vegetable garden and for soup. I want to plant black beans in my garden again this year -- they are so easy to grow, and they dry and store so beautifully - so I got out my container of black beans from last year's garden to put some to soak overnight and plant tomorrow. Since I had the beans out, I decided to make Blackbean Soup and Cornbread for dinner. I rarely use a recipe for soup, and, since this is still cooking away in my crockpot as I write this, have no idea how this is going to taste! However, I make great soups (really!) and have confidence this will come out OK!
2 cups of dried black beans 1 ham hock 1 cup chopped onions 2 cup chopped celery 1 cup chopped carrots 1/2 # ground beef 1/2 pkt of Good Seasons Garlic & Herb Dressing mix (dry mix) 2 cups tomato sauce 1 tbsp oregano 2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce 1 tsp black pepper 1 tsp red pepper flakes 1 cup long grain rice 1 cup diced ham 1 tsp hot sauce I put the beans in a pot of cold water (about 4-5 cups) and let it sit for 5 minutes, then picked off anything that floated (these are home-grown, so you do get little bits of leaves, stems, hulls, etc.). I rinsed and put them in clean cold water with about 1/2 tsp baking soda (supposed to reduce the gassy-effects of beans!) and brought them to a boil, boiled them for 5 minutes, turned off the heat, covered and let sit for 2 hours. (Meanwhile I pulled out another 1 cup of beans, placed them in a bowl with some water to soak to plant in the garden later this afternoon so I have another year's worth of beans!) I pulled out my small crockpot (it's deeper than my 6 qt crockpot and better for soup), and put in the chopped onions, celery and carrots, ham hock (bought fresh at the local Farmer's Market), 4 cups of water, and 2 cups of tomato sauce (from my garden tomatoes last year). Because I had a half-pound of uncooked ground beef in the fridge that needed to be used up, I tossed that in too. (Yeah, I do that.) I also had a 1/2 packet of Garlic & Herb salad dressing mix leftover from making Herbed French Fries** last week, and threw that in the pot. I added oregano, worst. sauce, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Because it's 11:00 when I'm doing this, I put the crockpot on high. If I'd planned ahead better, this would have been in the crockpot by 8am, and I'd have set it on low. As soon as the beans are done with their 2 hour soak, I will add them in. About 2:00 this afternoon, I'll add in the rice. At about 5:00, I'll take the ham hock out, let it cool, and dice up the meat. I'll also add in the additional diced ham* and hot sauce. Sometime this afternoon I'll taste the cooking broth, and if it's not flavorful enough, I'll add in two or three beef bouillion cubes to up the taste a bit. I'm hoping this will turn out like a nice thick beans and rice soup, with savory chunks of ham throughout. I plan on serving it with homemade corn bread. A nice hearty meal for a cool Spring day! *I want to mention the diced ham. In New England, we call this "boiled ham" and in Ohio, they call it "cooked ham". You find it at your deli counter, usually for at least $2-$3 a pound less than other lunchmeats. I ask the deli person for ONE 1/4 to 1/2 inch slice. I take this home and cube it up, and place 1 cup servings in small freezer bags. I use this ham for additions to macaroni & cheese, omelettes and scrambled eggs, breakfast burritos, and soups and bean dishes! I usually get 4 meals out of one slice (under $2) of this ham! It's not a fatty or salty ham, but does have a nice mild ham flavor. A good way to put meat in your frugal budget! ** Here's a GREAT low fat recipe for homemade French Fries. I took two large Idaho potatoes and sliced them lengthwise into 1/2 inch strips (skin on). I put them in a ziploc bag with 1 TEASPOON Canola Oil, and tossed them well until they were thoroughly covered with the oil. Then I added 1/2 packet of Good Seasons Garlic and Herb Salad Dressing Mix, tossed it all again. I Pam-sprayed a cookie sheet, set the oven on 400, and spread the potatoes on the cookie sheet, put them in the oven for 15 minutes, turned the potatoes over and put back in the oven until nice and brown - about 10-15 more minutes. These were delicious and far lower in fat than "regular" French Fries.


Tipper said...

The soup sounds great. And the french fries-I'll be trying!

Lisa said...

The french fries recipe is something I had all the time when I was on Weight Watchers, but I just added my own seasonings out of the cupboard (instead of the seasoning packet). I also used olive oil because I prefer the taste. These are so yummy, you don't miss that they're not fried, and it curbs a french fry craving anytime!

The Calico Quilter said...

Oh, dear, you had me at "ham hock"! There's not a pot of soup or beans not improved by throwing a ham hock in the pot. (Southern cook - can you tell?)