Soups and Stews

Black Bean Soup

Black Bean Soup with Brown Rice and Cotija Cheese

About 100 years ago (or so it seems), there was a fancy-dancy restaurant in Edmonton called The Carvery.  Basically, it was a steak house, but very upscale.   Anyone dining there could be assured of envious oooh and ahs from co-workers and friends.  Aside from the impeccable service, I will always remember certain dishes I was fortunate to taste there.

Escargots en Brioche, Peppercorn-encrusted Filet Mignon, but the real stand out item was their Black Bean Soup.   Honestly, it seemed the whole city was talking about it, and many, including myself were clamouring for the recipe!   I was fortunate to have a friend with sharp eyes who found it in one of the food columns of the Edmonton Journal.

That was over 20 years ago, and I am still making this soup!  (with a couple of tweaks, of course.)


The Carverys’ Black Bean Soup


2 cups dried black beans

2 Tablespoons canola oil

1  onion, diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

2 stalks celery, sliced into 1/4″ slices

1 Tablespoon tomato paste

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground is best)

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 bay leaves

1 cup Heinz Chile Sauce (sub ketchup if you cant find the chile sauce)

4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced, or 14 oz can diced tomatoes

1  litre water (about)

1 litre chicken stock

1 1/2 teaspoons salt (or more to taste)

3/4 cup sherry

For serving:

2 cups cooked brown rice,

Cotija (or feta) cheese


Sort, rinse and soak beans in water over night.

In large pot over medium heat, heat the oil and add the onions, carrots and celery.  Cook, stirring occasionally until onion is translucent.  Do not let the onions brown.  Stir in tomato paste, garlic, cumin, black pepper and cayenne and cook another minute, until tomato paste darkens a bit and spices become fragrant.

Add beans and their soaking liquid to pot.  Add chicken stock and enough water to cover beans by about 2 inches.  Bring to boil over high heat for 15 – 20 minutes.  Reduce heat to low, partially cover and simmer 2 – 4 hours, until beans are soft and starting to split open.  Be sure to keep an eye on the water level, adding more water or stock as needed to keep the beans covered during cooking time.

Once beans are fully cooked, remove from heat and add salt and sherry, stirring well to combine.  Allow to cool slightly.

Working in batches, CAREFULLY, transfer to blender & puree  about 2/3 of the soup.  Pour the pureed mixture back into the pot with the whole beans.  Taste for seasoning, reheat and spoon into bowls.  Top with brown rice and cotija cheese and serve.

Additional topping ideas include, but certainly are NOT limited to:  sour cream, diced tomatoes, diced avocados and chile flakes.






How To... · Soups and Stews

Chicken Stock

Yup, it is exactly the same as Turkey Stock, but a whole lot more versatile.

In my family, there is a certain traditional flavour we expect Turkey Soup (and stock) to maintain, whereas chicken stock can go in so many different directions.

The beginning is simple.  Start with a pot full (about 2 kilos) of chicken bones, backs, thigh bones, breast bones.   (Honestly, if you are not already doing this, keep a zip lock bag in your freezer and any time you have to remove a breast bone, or de-bone a chicken thigh, toss it in the freezer bag.  You will be surprised at how little time it takes to fill it up.  Once full, it should weigh about 2 kilos, which is enough for  2 – 3 litres of stock. )

Toss the frozen contents of that bag into a stock pot, add water to just cover the chicken pieces.   Toss in 1 onion, quartered, 2 stalks of celery, cut into 2″ pieces, 2 carrots, peeled and cut into quarters, and a handful of parsley stems.

IMG_2437 2
This batch included chile d’arbole and dried chipotle, along with garlic and cilantro

Now for the fun part; any number of additions can be made in any combinations you like, depending on how you plan on using the stock once finished:  oregano, thyme, dill, ginger, cilantro, dried chilies, garlic, lemons, lime, use your imagination.

Once you have everything in the pot, bring to just below the boiling point over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hours.  Keep an eye on the water level, it should just cover the bones to begin with, and as the stock simmers, the level of liquid will reduce by about 2″.    Avoid letting it boil and try not to stir too much as this will make your stock cloudy.   Remove from heat, cool slightly and strain the broth.  Discard solids  (you can pick the meat off the bones at this point to use in the soup if you like, but my personal opinion is that the meat has boiled so long, all the flavour has left it by now).    Let stock stand, uncovered until it cools to room temperature.  Then transfer smaller containers and refrigerate, uncovered until completely cool.  Do not cover until completely cool or the stock will turn sour and unusable.   Once cooled, any fat can be easily removed and discarded.

And that is it!  Simple.   Stock will keep in the fridge for 5 days.  You can freeze it for up to 3 months.

IMG_2437 2


How To... · Main Courses · Soups and Stews

Turkey Stock


Finally, a free day for me, which means I have time to move last weeks turkey carcass out of the freezer and into my stock pot!!

Not that making stock is difficult, or time consuming, when one really stops to think about it.  Just put the ingredients into a pot, cover with water and let it simmer away on the stovetop for a couple of hours while I putter away at something else.

My plan today was to take a short nap, then write this blog while the stock simmered.  The nap part came off without a hitch,  but my computer wanted no part of my plan, and the stock is finished and cooling and I am just starting this blog.   Hmm.

There are so many reasons for making your own stock, aside from making your house smell awesome with very little effort, but in this case,   if you want turkey soup, you will have to make your own stock.   I don’t think they sell it.

This is the basic recipe.  Use your imagination to expand its flavour profile.  My stock today included 1 jalepeno, a small piece of ginger, 8 chicken thigh bones (left over from last nights dinner) and some cilantro stems.  The add-ins are limited only by your imagination, really.

Oh and thanks to my genius friends suggestion, cooling stock in 80F weather just got a whole lot easier ( and faster):  run a sink full of cold water, plunk the pot with the strained broth in it and let the water work its magic.



Turkey Stock

1 leftover turkey carcass, bones and any skin that family members did not peel off the bird   as you were trying to carve it on the big day

1 onion, quartered

2 carrots, peeled

4 stalks celery

2 teaspoons black peppercorns

water to cover

Bring to boil, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface.  Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered for 2hours.  Remove lid and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes to reduce the stock just a little.

Let stand 30 minutes to cool a bit.   Strain thru colander into another pot large enough to hold all the stock.    (Be careful when working with hot liquids).  When bones are cool enough to handle, you can pick the meat off the bones to put back into the soup, or you can toss all the solids and just keep the stock.

Strain the soup again thru a fine mesh strainer.  Let cool completely before refrigerating or  packaging to freeze.

This will keep in your fridge for 3 days, or up to 3 months in your freezer.

Soups and Stews

Bean Soup with Pork



Its a fact.  Unless we have gnawed on them, I am unable to toss most bones into the trash without first coaxing every last bit of goodness out of them by making soup or stock with them.  In fact most of the items in our little freezer are bones waiting to be made into stock or stock waiting to be used in soups, risottos or anything else needing a shot of flavour.

This soup was inspired by the bone leftover from the Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder I made awhile back.   Plus, there was already a ham bone in our freezer…  If you dont happen to have a ham bone at the ready, you can always sub a smoked ham hock or just add a few more pork bones.

Salt is added at the end as the ham bone will add some salt of it’s  own.  It is also rumoured that adding salt too early will cause the beans to be tough, so don’t salt until the end.

You will need to remember to start soaking your beans the night before.


Bean Soup with Pork

1 Tablespoon canola oil

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, cut into 1/4″ dice

2 stalks celery,  1/4 inch slices

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 lbs other pork bones (like from the pork shoulder you roasted last weekend)

1 ham bone

1 cup dried canellni beans  soaked overnightimg_1872

5 litres water

10 peppercorns

1 bay leaf

1 large sprig fresh rosemary

1 large sprig fresh oregano

salt and pepper

Make a bouquet garni for the spices:  Cut a 6″ square of  cheesecloth, place peppercorns, bay leaf, rosemary and oregano in centre, pull corners of cloth together and tie with kitchen string.  Set aside.

Heat oil in large stock pot, over medium heat.  Add onion, carrot and celery, stirring until onion has started to brown.  About 8 minutes.  Stir in garlic, and tomato paste and cook, stirring, another minute.

Add pork bones and ham bones.  Drain beans from their soaking liquid.  Discard liquid and add beans to stock pot.

Add 5 litres of water and bouquet garni.  Bring to boil over high heat, skimming any foam that rises to the top.  Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered for 3 – 4 hours, until beans are tender.  You may need to add some water during this process if your stock reduces too much.  Try to keep the bones barely covered.

Remove from heat and fish out bouquet garni and the bones.  Discard bouquet garni. Set the bones aside.

Cool soup in pot for half an hour, undisturbed which will allow fat will rise to the top.  Carefully skim off as much as possible.   OR… if you are not planning to have this for dinner tonight, cool to room temp, then refrigerate overnight.  Skim off fat before reheating.

Once the bones are cool enough to handle, remove meat from them.  Put the meat, minus the bones and any gristle and fat, back into the soup.

Taste for seasoning and adding salt and pepper to suit your taste.  Reheat before serving if necessary.

This will keep in the fridge for 3 days.  It also freezes very well for up to a month.

COOKS NOTE:  Next time I make this, I will add a dried chipotle chile to add a bit of spice and some smokey flavour.


Soups and Stews

Cauliflower Soup


Cauliflower is not my husbands favourite vegetable, which means it doesn’t come into our house very often.    However, when I saw a bin full of fresh, creamy white cauliflower at the market the other day, I could not resist.   Plus, Kevin was away for a few days, so no eye rolling  or comments from my better half as I placed it in the cart!!

It was a fairly large head of cauliflower, and though I enjoyed it fried, stir-fried, and raw, I still had nearly half a head left that needed to be turned into something fantastic before it was too late.   So, I made this soup, which  allows the subtle flavour of the vegetable to shine.   I hope you enjoy it.  The colour of the soup, by the way,  comes from the spices and the slight caramelization of the onions.

This will make 2 servings as a main course with crusty bread/salad and/or sandwich, or 4 appetizer servings.

Cauliflower Soup

1 Tablespoon butter

1 onion, diced

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground fenugreek

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 cups cauliflower, chopped into fairly small bits, about 1/2 a head

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

pinch sugar

2 cups chicken stock

1 cup water

1/2 cup whole milk

additional salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

2 Tablespoons chopped almonds,  toasted

2 Tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped

Melt butter in medium pot over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent.  Add cumin fenugreek and cayenne.  Cook, stirring until spices are fragrant, about 1 minute.





Add cauliflower, salt and pepper, and cook stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.

Add sugar, water and chicken stock and increase heat to high.  Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer partially covered for 25 minutes, until cauliflower is very tender.

Remove from heat.  Using a hand held blender carefully puree soup.

Once soup has been pureed, add milk and taste for seasoning, adding additional salt and pepper to your taste.  Re-heat over low heat, until steaming, but DO NOT allow to boil.

Ladle into bowls, and garnish with grated cheese, toasted almonds and cilantro.

Serve immediately.

COOKS NOTE:  If you don’t have a hand held blender, let mixture cool slightly, then working in batches, CAREFULLY, puree soup and return to pot.