Thursday, January 26, 2012

Black Bean, Sweet Potato, & Kale Soup

So, you probably think, "Man!  Sara and Justin eat a lot of soup.  What the heck?!"  Well, we do eat a lot of soup.  And, we don't really get tired of it either.  Once the weather begins to cool, I find that soup is so easy and comforting on a busy week night.  I love it not only for the warmth and comfort, but also because I can make a big batch ahead of time, it gets better after you make it and the flavors marry together, and I can easily freeze the leftovers for a quick lunch when I don't have anything else planned. 

Some find that soup does not always fill them up for long.  Not so with this soup!  Chuck full of fiber and protein due to the black beans, this soup is given added bulk and nutrients with the addition of sweet potato and kale.  Do not fear the kale my friends! The kale packs a flavor similar to a country smoked ham.  I originally thought this soup would taste more like a chili, but found it to have more of a Southern flare similar to the traditional ham and beans.  It is so good!

Black Bean, Sweet Potato, & Kale Soup
(inspired by Hy-Vee Seasons magazine)

1 bag black beans
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-1/2-inch cubes
1 bag cut and ready kale (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth to make vegetarian)
4 cups water

The evening before you make your soup, you will want to soak your black beans following the overnight directions on the back of the bag of beans.  I poured my beans into a large bowl, covered the beans with water, and let them soak overnight.

The next day, rinse and drain the beans in a calendar.  Dump the beans into a large crock pot.  Add the onion, carrot, celery sweet potatoes, cumin, red pepper, broth, and water to the crock pot.  Cover, and set your crock pot on high.  Stirring occasionally, let the soup simmer for 6-8 hours.  When the beans start to break down, and the soup has thickened, add the kale.  Stir, cover, and simmer for another 1-1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.  When the kale has softened, turn your crock pot off.  I like to let the soup set and cool for 20-30 minutes before serving.  You can garnish with sour cream and chopped green onions or serve on its own with a side of crusty bread.

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