Tag Archives: soup

Pantry project: Basic black bean soup

When I did the Kitchn Cure last month, I did a thorough clean-out and reorganization of our fridge, freezer, and pantry. In getting through these tasks, I realized that we have a LOT of food in our apartment. While there are perfectly good reasons for keeping a good supply of food around (what if there’s an earthquake? or 20 people show up unexpectedly for dinner?), our stocks were starting to stress the storage limits of our small space. So, I began a small and unofficial project to start using up some of the little bits and pieces that were accumulating in the freezer. When M. returned from his summer backpacking adventure, we crunched some numbers on our 2014 grocery spending to date and decided to kick our efforts up a notch and make a more concerted effort to “shop the pantry”. We have one hard and fast rule (no purchasing of a new food if there is a functionally equivalent food still available), and a general agreement to structure our meal planning each week to take advantage of foods we already have available.
We’ll be measuring progress based on the fullness of our pantry/freezer, and the size of our grocery bill.

So, for the next few months, I’ll probably be posting a few more “pantry-friendly” recipes. To kick things off, here’s one of my most reliable pantry meals: black bean soup. We purchase dried black beans in bulk, 15 lbs at a time, so there are usually plenty on hand. I ate it pretty regularly through grad school, as evidenced by this vintage photo:

Fortunately, M. loves black bean soup as much as I do, so it’s remained a staple of our fall and winter meals. It’s a very easy soup to use for absorbing odds and ends in the fridge also, which means it’s a bit different almost every time I make a batch. True to the “pantry” theme of this post, the recipe I’m sharing today is the ultra basic version, but I often like to mix it up by adding one or more of the following:

-A cup or two of kale or spinach
-a cup of corn kernels
-a small chopped sweet potato or a cup of cubed butternut squash
-a zucchini or two
-red, yellow, or orange bell peppers
-a handful of chopped cilantro

If you want to get fancy with your soup, you can also try topping it with cilantro, cheese, or avocado. Add a pan of cornbread on the side and a loaded version of this soup makes an easy and delicious cold weather meal to share with friends.

Basic black bean soup
serves 6-8

2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
4-5 cloves crushed garlic
2 carrots, diced
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. coriander
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
5 cups cooked black beans
28 oz can diced tomatoes
4 c. water
salt and pepper to taste

1.In a large stock or soup pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Saute the onions for 6-8 minutes, until slightly translucent. Add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes more. Add the carrots and saute for 5 minutes. Add the cumin, coriander, oregano, and thyme, stir until onions/carrots are coated with spices.

2. Add the black beans, tomatoes, and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and allow to cook for another 30-40 minutes. Serve hot.

Dried legumes are currently taking up a lot of our pantry real estate, so expect to see more soup recipes this fall and winter! If your pantry is also overflowing with beans, here are a few older recipes you might enjoy trying:

Curried red lentil soup
Garlicky white bean soup
Chickpea and scallion fritters

Curried red lentil soup


Come January, I always seem to be craving foods that are a little lighter, “cleaner”, healthier, whatever. This soup is one result of those cravings. I made a big crockpot of it on New Year’s day, had some friends over for dinner, and served it alongside a salad of mixed greens and lemon tahini dressing. I cooked up another batch today, so it seemed an appropriate time to share the recipe.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I find lentils, while delicious, cheap, and nutritious, can get a little heavy and stodgy on their own. This recipe breaks up the lentils with a slew of vegetables, then fires and brightens with the addition of Thai chilis and a dash of lime juice. Coconut milk adds a creamy finish that separates the dish from your stereotypical cheap student fare (without actually breaking the grocery budget, excellent). If you’re feeling yourself held a little too closely in winter’s grip, this soup is sure to loosen it’s hold with a shot of delicious at the dinner table.


Curried red lentil soup
Serves 8-10

3 c. dried red lentils
4 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, cut into 1/2″ dice
4 cloves garlic
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4″ dice
3 zucchini or yellow squash, cut into 3/4″ dice
2 stalks of celery, cut into 3/4″ dice
3 Thai chili peppers, finely diced
2 tbsp yellow curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
8 c. vegetable broth
1 14-oz can coconut milk.
Juice of one lime


1. Soak lentils in cold water overnight (you can skip this step, plan on extending the cooking time by 10-20 minutes, and adding additional liquid). When ready to make the soup, place lentils in a large soup or stockpot

2. In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil to medium heat. Saute the onions until soft and slightly translucent, 6-10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute 2-3 minutes more. Transfer onion and garlic mixture to stockpot with lentils.

3. Add 1 tbsp oil to skillet, saute carrots for 8-12 minutes, until soft and with a few browned edges. Transfer to stockpot. Repeat with zucchini and celery.

4. Add chilis, curry powder, cumin, and coriander. Turn heat to medium and stir all ingredients together until evenly coated with spices. Continue stirring for 2 minutes more. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook soup, covered, for 25-30 minutes, until lentils are cooked through and soft. Add coconut milk and lime juice and allow soup to heat through. Remove from heat and serve.

Curried cauliflower and sweet potato soup (vegan)


Last week, the almost unthinkable happened. It got cold here. Temperatures dipped below freezing overnight! I wore a heavy wool sweater and my fleece-lined winter raincoat and a scarf and gloves to walk to work! We broke out the fuzzy slippers and the hot water bottles and generally hunkered down. And I made soup.

I love soup at almost any time of year, but when it’s cold out (and all you hardier types in areas where there is “real winter” can stop laughing at my reaction to a little flirting with the freezing point now, thanks), soup can especially hit the spot. Some how a hot bowl of liquid just warms you up that much faster than a hot plate of solids.

Of course, for your extra cold weather, you want an extra warming and satisfying bowl of soup. For this recipe, I add a hefty dose of spicy Thai chilis, and temper them with a can of coconut milk. Cauliflower to make sure we’re still getting some vegetable matter in, and sweet potato for a hint of sweetness and a nice dose of starch (vital when your body is fighting to maintain homeostasis, right?). Blend it all together, and the result is a thick, velvety soup with a sneaky kick of heat (for those of you who prefer a milder soup, I’d suggest adding just one chili pepper, then increasing the heat in individual bowls with a little hot sauce as desired).

M., who has a pretty low tolerance for consecutive nights of the same dinner, actually requested that we eat this soup for dinner on Monday, he loved it so much on Sunday night. The weather’s warmed up again this week, but I’ll have this recipe filed away and ready to deploy for the next little freeze. For those of you who are still feeling winter’s grip, try this to help you through.

Because we’re almost always freezing some part of our soups and trying to maximize available freezer space, the recipe below doesn’t contain a lot of liquid and may come out too thick for some tastes. Feel free to dilute individual bowls with a little more hot broth before serving to achieve your desired consistency.


Curried Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Soup
serves 8

2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, roughly diced
3 cloves garlic
3 Thai chili peppers (the very small green kind)
3 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp asafoetida powder*
1 sweet potato (about 6 oz), peeled and cut into 8-10 pieces
1 head of cauliflower (approx. 2 lbs), cut into pieces ~2-3″ long
4 c. vegetable or chicken broth
1 14-oz can coconut milk
salt, to taste

*This spice can be a little tricky to find, I’ve had success at Indian groceries or natural foods stores with a good bulk spice section. If you can’t find it, the soup will still taste fine without.

1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil to a medium heat. Add the onions, stir to coat with oil, and allow to cook until onions are soft and slightly translucent, about 8-10 minutes

2. Add garlic, cook for 1-2 minutes. Add chili, curry powder, and asafoetida, cook for 1-2 minutes.

3. Add sweet potato and cauliflower, stir to coat with spice and onion mixture. Add broth, cover pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and allow soup to simmer, covered, for 20-30 minutes, until cauliflower is cooked and will fall apart with a firm touch from a wooden spoon.

4. If you have an immersion blender, puree the soup right in the pot. If not, transfer soup to a mixing bowl, then use a food processor to puree batches of soup, returning each pureed batch to the pot. Be careful not to overfill the food processor (I try not to cover the top of the central knob piece on the s-blade).

5. Add the coconut milk to the pureed soup and allow to heat thoroughly (avoid boiling the soup after adding the coconut milk).

Thin with broth if desired, serve hot.

Recipe: Tom Kha soup (vegan)

Tom Kha soup

My first experience of Tom Kha soup was at a potluck I held while briefly living in Washington, DC. One guest brought a pot of this soup and it was so good that I begged the recipe from her. Since then, we’ve made a few adjustments to suit our tastes and it’s become a favorite. If you’re feeling under the weather, the bright citrus notes of this soup can really give you a boost.
Continue reading Recipe: Tom Kha soup (vegan)

What we ate: C&V-ified Korean hot pot

This soup was loosely modeled on one we had last winter at a local Korean place. After a long weekend out of town, dinner on the way home sounded pretty amazing. We both decided on a spicy vegetable soup, his with beef and mine (allegedly) vegetarian. Two huge bowls arrived, full of brightly colored broth and vegetables. After a few spoonfuls, Mr. C&V looked up. “This is amazing–could we make it at home?” To which I blithely responded: “Sure, we just need to find a recipe!”
Continue reading What we ate: C&V-ified Korean hot pot

Recipe: Garlicky White Bean Soup

The basis for this recipe was one that appeared in a cookbook near and dear to my heart, Vegan with a Vengeance. I’ve tweaked it and adapted for batch cooking over the years, and it’s become a favorite that I come back to. Oddly, I’m always nervous about serving it to others (“will they think this is just a big bowl of bean puree?”), but it’s a consistent hit, especially for guests who have just arrived after a long day of travel.
Continue reading Recipe: Garlicky White Bean Soup