Black bean soup

This black bean soup is easy to make with some of the food from the back of your pantry.

If you’re anything like me, you’re slowly going through your food reserves as you spend more time at home. Going to the grocery store is hit or miss as far as whether or not you’re going to get the ingredients you want, and if you’re completely isolating yourself, food storage can get lower than normal. 

I’ve used the extra time to rid my pantry of a few items I may have been a little too stocked up on. Dry beans, extra potatoes and a few spices I forgot I had have found their ways into the nooks and crannies of my small and limited pantry space. So, I found myself asking “what do I do with them?”

Well, this week I tried out a few new recipes with these items from the depths of my pantry and I want to share them with you.

Dry black bean soup

This is a favorite of mine all year round, but I made a little extra to freeze this time as I found an extra supply of dry black beans I didn’t know I had. This recipe uses minimal fresh ingredients, doesn’t require the beans to be soaked and can be cooked without fresh vegetables at all if the need arises. 

– 2 cups of dried black beans (about 1 pound) or two cans of black beans. 

– A few sticks of celery

– A couple of carrots (frozen or fresh)

– One medium onion (or dried onion if needed) 

– Three cloves of garlic (or two spoonfuls of jarred garlic)

– 8 cups of water (vegetable or chicken stock can also be used)

– Chipotle chilis or your favorite hot sauce to taste

– Dried oregano

– Kosher salt

– Black pepper

Put about one-fourth of a cup of olive oil in your favorite large cooking pot and bring it up to a medium temperature. After it's hot, put in the onions, celery, carrots, garlic and any other frozen or fresh vegetables you wish. Cook until the onions are about see through and pungent. Put in chipotle chilis or your favorite hot sauce (I use two tablespoons of Battle Ground local Silagy Smokin’ Habanero sauce in mine) and cook for about a minute. Put in the water/stock and black beans and bring to a boil. Drop the temperature down to a simmer and cook for about three hours (two if using canned black beans) stirring every 30 minutes. 

Enjoy this soup straight from the pot or over rice. It freezes very easily and goes well with sour cream, avocado and tortilla chips. 

Spice up your ramen

Dried ramen packets are the staple of any college diet. But they last forever and I seem to always have a package or two in the back of my pantry. Adults can eat the college favorite too, and it’s easy to make into a dinner full of flavor.

The first thing you can do to add a personality to your ramen is pan fry up some chicken or tofu in high temperature neutral oil (I use avocado oil). Make sure the protein has a crispy outside and a fully cooked, tender inside. Add a little of your favorite seasoning to spice up the flavor. After cooking the protein, toss in some of your favorite fresh or frozen vegetables such as celery, carrots or green beans and fry them. 

Once your ramen is in the water boiling, toss in an egg still in the shell and soft boil it in the water with the noodles (another option for this is putting an over easy fried egg on top of the ramen once it’s cooked). 

Throw a few sprigs of fresh green onion on top after everything is put together and you’ll have yourself an upgraded ramen dish with lots of flavor. This recipe is super easy to manipulate to your taste buds and trying new things like cooking the noodles in chicken stock can add a slight change to a normally average dish.

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