When David tore up the last of the winter garden 3 weeks ago, he brought me a HUGE pile of cilantro...enough to feed a horse. I promptly put it in the kid's wagon, and sent Rebecca around the block offering it to all the neighbors. We got rid of just over half of it this way...so I had to figure out what to do with the rest.
We had a perfectly marvelous dinner with a Legionnaire priest and seminarian about 10 days later...and I made a simple roast chicken, rubbed with this amazing pesto recipe I found on the internet. Even after making a triple batch, I still had fresh cilantro in the fridge. So I made another triple batch of the pesto and froze it...which finally used nearly all of it.
I am pretty darn sure as this pesto was so good on roast chicken, a small dollop in some black bean soup would be fabulous. Not to mention equally as good on a piece of fish, steak, pork, or whatever else you fancy.
I stuck to the original recipe, except I substituted toasted almonds for the pine nuts--which can be difficult to find and expensive to boot. I also left out the red pepper flakes, because I knew they would be too spicy for my kids...but if you like a pesto with attitude, then leave them in.
One last thing...I made Cheesy Green Chile Cornbread to serve on the side. Simple and delicious, because it starts with a boxed cornbread mix.
Hopefully it is getting to be spring where you are...if not, this meal is one last warming, rib-sticking meal to say goodbye to winter!
Black Bean Soup with Cilantro-Parsley Pesto
FOR THE SOUP:2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, undrained and divided
Pinch of red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 can (14.5 ounces) low sodium chicken/vegetable broth
1 can (10 ounces) Rotel tomatoes
1 can (11 ounces) yellow corn, drained
Sour cream for garnish (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until onions are soft but not brown, about 5 minutes.
Place one can of beans in a blender. Add the sautéed onion mixture, red pepper flakes (I left them out) and cumin. I used my immersion blender. If you like to make pureed soups, you really must get one...no transferring hot soup back and forth to the blender!
If you're using a blender, cover and blend on high until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour the mixture back into the pot.
Place second can of beans and broth in blender (or use an immersion blender) and puree until smooth, and stir into the pot along with the first batch of beans.
Stir the third can of beans (do not puree first), Rotel, and corn into the pot.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.
Serve with a swirl of sour cream and a tablespoon of the cilantro-parsley pesto.
Y'all...you just have to make this pesto. I tried a bit of the soup without the pesto, and then a bite with. It just about blew my mind. The pesto added a wonderful layer of flavor...the lime zest and lime juice complimented the beans perfectly. Even my hubby said, "I really like the pesto with the soup." And that's saying something!
FOR THE CILANTRO-PARSLEY PESTO:
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons pine nuts/almonds
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup fresh parsley leaves
Juice and zest from 1 lime
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
1/2 teaspoon chile powder
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the garlic and pine nuts/almonds until they are finely minced. Add the cilantro, parsley, lime juice, lime zest, red wine vinegar, cumin seeds, chile powder, and red pepper flakes. Process for about 10-15 seconds, and scrap down the bowl. Slowly add the olive oil until the pesto is viscous (not pasty, but not really liquidy either). Season to taste with salt and pepper. This will keep in the fridge for about 2 weeks. You can also make it in advance and freeze it in ice cube trays. Pop the cubes out once they're frozen and place in a zip-top freezer bag. They will last 3-6 months.
I apologize for the lack of pictures...I made the pesto a couple of weeks ago and froze it...and didn't take any pics of the process...sorry! I can offer a close-up, but that's all.
* To toast the cumin seeds, place them in a dry skillet over low heat, and shake the pan every couple of minutes until they are lightly golden brown. Watch them carefully...it won't take long. If you can smell them, that usually means they are done. I found whole cumin seeds in the Mexican section of my grocery store.
This soup is simple, hearty, AND healthy! If you use light sour cream, it won't add much. Yes, there is a lot of olive oil in the pesto, but you only need a tablespoon in your bowl. It adds such a great flavor...I hope you make it too!
God bless your table tonight!