Cuban Black Bean Soup



This is the Cuban Black Bean Soup from "Viva Vegan!". It's a good 'day off' soup because it takes a long time to make. Most of it is simmering, but stirring is necessary, so you can't just leave it be for the multiple hours that it takes to cook.

It uses dried beans, which I'm still sort of warming up to. I just have a hard time getting past how flipping long they take to soak and cook. I know that they're supposed to be what real cooks use, but I don't know, with how many steps some of my recipes use- adding more is kind of annoying. They do taste a bit better, the canned ones turn to mush too fast. But the dried ones are kind of a pain on the whole and I'm not sure that they taste THAT much better for all the attention that they need. Perhaps if I just shift to dried being the norm, I won't think about it and it'll just be part of the process.

Anyway, I made my own vegetable broth in another attempt to be a real cook. I have spoken with and read info from some chefs who, although they seem elitist and d-baggish about it, insist that homemade broth is the only way to go. I made the RFD broth recipe, which seems fine, but I've honestly never tasted straight up store bought broth, so I'm not sure of the difference. I'm going to use the rest of it in a lighter flavored soup where the broth can shine though and I'll report back.

Anyway, the black bean soup. S'good, but honestly, I prefer mine (see HERE) I like the red bell, carrots and celery in mine. This one has green bell and a whole other process (with the dried beans and all). It utilizes the bean cooking liquid, uses green bells and not a lot of tomato. So, it's a very husky, deep soup. It also has a bit of liquid smoke in it, which further darkens the whole thing. It's good, I just prefer black bean soup to be less smoky and heavy. Hearty is great, but this tastes heavy. I should have made the cashew cream, it may have balanced everything out better. I was just tired of making things at that point.

Papusas!



Not the most glamorous food pic I've ever taken, mostly because the bottom papusa is half eaten... (I forgot to photo them until I started dinner!).

These are from "Viva Vegan!". This version is filled with refried beans and left over chorizo from the sopas (HERE). It was my first time making homemade refried beans, and that's really the best part about having made this recipe- those were fantastico!

I must say, between the sopas and the papusas, I think I preferred the sopas. The papusas were great too, but the masa overpowers the other flavors of the fillings a bit more just because they're wrapped in it (versus sitting on top of it where you can pile your fillings up to the moon). Still, they're relatively easy, pretty darn tasty and really versatile.You could probably stuff them with almost anything that you'd put in a burrito or taco. And who doesn't love new incarnations of those?

Sopas!



These are good. They're from "Viva Vegan!" a book that I just got by Terry Hope Romero (co-author with Isa Chandra Moskowitz on a bunch of books). This recipe, and quite a few in the book, are similar to RFD's in that each recipe calls for ingredients made with other recipes in the book. For example, for the Sopas here, there was; the masa dough, the chorizo, pickled onions and cashew crema (skipped that one) and then, of course, the recipe itself. I also inadvertently skipped the onions despite having made them 2 days ago (forgot about them in the fridge, outta sight, outta sopa). So, to me now, this complexity in a recipe implies that it will be good. If I have the time, I'll go for the long, drawn out recipes because they generally are better. Short, fast and easy ones tend to reflex their simplicity in their taste (spoken like a true snotty foodie). Which is not to say that I still don't love me some pb&j and other quickie meals.

The crust/ tart/ tortilla-esque shell on this is great. The author likens making papusas to making clay ashtrays and that's exactly what this reminded me of. A masa ashtray. The spinach was perfect on it, it was creamy and moist, but I'd scale back on the lime juice next time. The chorizo, I am sad to say, I did not like as much as Isa Chandra's from the Vegan Brunch book (HERE). These are spiced differently (and more intensely) which is nice, but it was the method of preparation that I think made the difference. The others are steamed and these are baked. After cooling them for hours, I cut into them and they were really sticky and not firm inside, even though the outside was fully cooked and dried out. The Vegan Brunchers have a seitan-ish gluten meat texture, and these are way...puttier on the inside. Also, she instructs to pan fry them with garlic, which did not work out well. The chorizo had to be cooked so long to get some semblance of firmness that the garlic got charred (not a taste I'm fond of). So, next time, I'll probably make this with Isa Chandra's Chorizo- or a hybrid. Viva Vegans spices + the rest of the Vegan Brunch recipe.

I was surprised that the recipe didn't call for tomatoes with the toppings, but when I ate my tasty sopa, I found that it didn't need it. There was enough moisture in the spinach and crust and enough tomato flavor in the chorizo. I wish I had remembered the red onions on top (they turned a crazy neon magenta from the pickling process), but the rest (cabbage, radish and avocado) was amazing. This was one of those meals where you sit in silence and let all of the flavors bounce around in your mouth and think about how lucky you are to be eating like this. (i.e.- I highly recommend it) And, I have three chorizos left so I will try the papusas or something else from the book in the next few days too.