Thursday, March 15, 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

When my Christmas cactus sported two lousy blooms at Yule, I was a bit disappointed. But what do we have here?

Apparently it's a St. Patrick's cactus this year.

This weekend I'm heading off with my knitting group to an inn in Michigan for a knitting retreat. What a great way to end finals week! Hopefully I'll finish my grading before we leave. I still need to gather up my projects and yarn.

Karin and I are responsible for dinner on Sat. night, and we're making two of my favorite soup recipes: Mexican Vegetable Stew (check the Jan. archives) and Black Bean Soup, which is easy, healthy, hearty, and delicious. In fact, it's so easy that Paul sometimes makes it on his own.

Black Bean Soup

10 sun-dried tomatoes (dry in a bag, not packed in oil in a jar)
1 C. boiling water
1.5 C. finely chopped onions
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 jalapeno chile
Cayenne pepper and/or Tabasco sauce to taste
2 T. vegetable oil
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/3 C. water
3 C. undrained canned whole tomatoes (28 oz can)
4 C. undrained canned black beans (2 x 16 oz cans)
¼ C. chopped fresh cilantro

In a small bowl, cover the sun-dried tomatoes with the boiling water and set aside.

In a soup pot, sauté the onions, garlic, and chile in the oil for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent. Add the cumin, 1/3 C. water, and the juice from the tomatoes. Break up the tomatoes by squeezing them into the soup pot, or chop them coarsely right in the can and add them to the pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Add the black beans and their liquid, and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

Drain and chop the softened sun-dried tomatoes. Add them to the soup and cook for 5-10 minutes longer, until the onions are tender. Stir in the cilantro and remove the soup from the heat.

Option 1: Puree half of the soup in a blender or food processor and return it to the pot.
Option 2: Run a hand-held immersion blender through the soup to puree it a bit.

If the soup is too thick, add some water or tomato juice. Reheat gently.

Serving suggestion:
Serve each bowl of soup with a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream or grated cheddar cheese.

From Moosewood Restaurant Cooks At Home, one of my favorite cookbooks.


Bobbi said...

I used to have a Christmas Cactus that would always bloom for Halloween AND Valentines!

Sharon said...

I have a cactus blooming right now as well - crazy. Have a great knitting retreat. Knitting alone is a retreat for me - knitting with others is the frosting on the cake.

Sally said...

Wow. I have clippings from my mom's Xmas cactus (which is older than I am), and mine has yet to bloom. Any secrets you'd care to share?