Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Crockpot Tomato & Bean Soup

I have a problem. I've swapped my Sons of Anarchy addiction for a new book addiction. I started reading Divergent last week - the first book in a 3 part dystopian series - and I found it a little silly at first, but now I am totally and completely hooked. I stayed up ridiculously late last night reading in the darkness, and at the crack of dawn this morning...instead of doing my morning workout or changing the dishwasher or washing a load of diapers (yes, we're cloth diaper-ers) like I usually do...I propped myself up on my pillows and started reading again. Until I had only 15 minutes to shower before Riker woke up.

If you were a fan of the Hunger Games series, I highly recommend this book. It's a fast read and definitely engaging. Can't wait to curl up in bed and read for a few more hours tonight!

But let's back up to dinner. Earlier this week dinners were nothing you haven't seen before - tomato jam paninis and vegetarian "sausage" and peppers - nothing share-worthy. It's not like you've never seen veggie soup on this blog before, but tonight's dinner puts us almost halfway through the crockpot challenge, so it had to be shared.

Yesterday I worked in the city and got home pretty late, almost 9 PM, but I knew I wanted to make this soup today so I took 2 minutes to get my beans soaking.

I love those colorful beans. This morning after I dropped Riker off at daycare, I rinsed the beans and threw them into my crockpot along with a bunch of other items from my cabinet. I love making bean soups because you can pretty much toss in whatever seasonings and veggies you want, and it'll turn out fine every time.

Honestly this is a pretty basic bean soup - no frills, nothin' fancy. But true to crockpot cooking, it's fast to put together, easy to prepare and leaves you with enough bowls of soup for another 3 meals. You can also doctor it up however you want: add shredded chicken, add different veggies, top it with sour cream, make it spicy - it's your call. I ate mine simply with a little cheddar cheese and hot sauce.

The one ingredient that might make you go, hm?, is lemon juice. Last week I attended a professional seminar for work, and at lunch the chef served a seriously delicious minestrone soup with lemon and cilantro. The citrus was so unexpected and I loved it. I took the chef's cue and added lemon here; it's not very strong, but the acid balances out the other seasonings and gives it a nice flavor.

Now, back to being a bookworm!

Crockpot Tomato & Bean Soup

Serves 6-8

1 20-oz. bag of dried beans (I used a 16 bean variety)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, peeled & chopped
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 28-oz. can plum tomatoes
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. cumin
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. hot sauce
4 cups vegetable broth
Shredded cheddar cheese and hot sauce, for garnish

Soak beans in water overnight. After soaking, drain and rinse the beans, then add them to the crockpot. Add all other ingredients. Break up the plum tomatoes with the back of the spoon, and stir everything to combine. Cook on low for 10 hours, or on high for 5 hours. Top with cheddar cheese and hot sauce, and serve.

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