Saturday, January 11, 2014

Black Bean and Bacon Soup

It dawned on me recently that although my crockpot and I are well-acquainted, we don't hang out as often as we ought.  And there's something so magical about leaving the house in the morning smelling all house-like, only to return to the euphoric aromas of dinner waiting to be devoured.  So, she (because all crockpots are girls, I think) and I have decided on at least a once-per-week get-together.

This week, I altered a recipe from my new Fix it and Forget it cookbook that my sister-in-law gave me for Christmas.  It's only slightly altered...mostly because when I saw what a ham hock was in person, I opted for something more familiar that actually looked edible....and because I tend to like things a little spicy and southwest-y.

Here's the recipe.  All ingredients in bold are in my version, and any omissions of original to my version are noted.

2 cups dry black beans
4-6 cups water (my cooker is small, so I used 3 cups, adding more throughout the day if needed)
2 small onions, chopped (I used 1 huge onion)
3 cloves minced garlic (or more, if you're like me)
2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tub of Knorr concentrated chicken stock
2 bay leaves (I omitted these)
1 ham hock (Uh, go look at a ham hock.  Then you'll understand why I substituted just under 2lbs of thick sliced bacon)
1 can rotel
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 green bell pepper, chopped (I omitted this, too)

1. Either presoak the beans overnight, or do the quick soak method as directed on the bag.  I always quick soak beans, and let them stand for about an hour before using them in recipes.  Pour off the soak water.
2.  Pour beans into your cooker, adding the water.  Before doing so, this is a good time to add a slow cooker liner if you haven't already.  You're welcome.
3.  Add onions, garlic, tub of stock, and spices, along with can of rotel.  Stir well.
4.  Add the bacon (or ham hock) and slightly submerge.  I cut the bacon strips in half length-wise and broke the sliced meat into several large chunks before doing so and spread them out in the cooker.
5.  Cover.  Cook on low for 9-11 hours, or high for 5-7 hours, or until the meat and beans are tender.
6.  If you're following the original recipe, about 30 minutes before the end of cooking time, add the chopped bell pepper.  For me, this is when I add the cilantro, stirring it in.
7.  At the end of the cooking time, if you used the ham hock, remove it and tear or cut the meat from the bone (discard the bone) and add the meat back to the soup.  If you used the bacon, it should be in small enough bits already.

You can eat it as is, or you can serve it over rice.  Personally, I think it'd be scrumptious with a side of cornbread.

I loved this dinner.  It was really flavorful and delicious.  And since I barely did anything to prepare it or clean up after it, I'd have it a million more times.  My hubby didn't like the texture of the bacon, so next time I'll probably use some other kind of ham, and he took the opportunity to tell me for the first time ever that black beans are his least favorite variety.  So next time, I may add a couple other types to pinto and great northern or navy.

Because we have to count carbs at our house (my hubby is diabetic), I figured that out and I'll share with you.  For calculating purposes, I'm assuming we will have this two nights, and that each serving will be approximately 1/4 of the total batch, so that's where I'm getting my numbers in case you're wondering.  Also, I'm not including any rice or sides...just the soup.

2 cups black beans = 176 carbs - 20 dietary fiber = 156 total carbs
1 can rotel (mild) = 12.5 carbs
Grand Carb Total = 168.5
Divided into 4 equal servings = about 42 carbs per bowl

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