Yesterday, I got a short email from my Mother: “What can I do with preserved lemons?” She’s currently scraping out the back of the pantry and finding hidden treasures she didn’t know she had. And that she has no idea what to do with… As you may know from my last post, the recipe also has to use black beans. Enter the old faithful black bean soup; redone with a more North African twist as that’s where the intriguing and almighty preserved lemon hails from. While there could be more spices added here (think cumin powder, garlic, perhaps some sumac), I’ve kept it to a minimum out of respect for my Mother’s current ingredient limitations. The restrained palette also allows the lemon to really shine as its taste is truly inimitable. Do feel free to experiment and add the suggested spices if you want to though!
BTW – in case you want a great trick to keep your black beans really dark when you cook them: add a bit of lime or lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar) to the cooking water. It doesn’t take much, a quarter teaspoon or so for a full pot of beans is enough!
Yield: 6 cups
What you need:
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 onion, diced, about 1 cup
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1-1/2 to 2 cups of cooked black beans
- 2 cups of the bean cooking liquid + 2 cups water or vegetable stock (or a full 4 cups of bean cooking liquid, depends on how well you digest beans…)
- 1/4 cup red quinoa (or white quinoa, or another quick-cooking grain you like)
- 1/4 of a preserved lemon, washed, rind only, finely minced – about 1 tablespoon minced
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- a tiny (really tiny) pinch of ground clove (optional)
- 1 bay leaf
What you do:
- Heat a small soup pot over medium heat. When hot, add the oil and onion and turn to medium low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 or 4 minutes.
- Add the celery and toss to coat in oil. Keep cooking until the onions are soft and translucent. If your burners run hot, turn them down to avoid browning.
- Add the cinnamon powder, clove powder if using and bay leaf and stir into the softened vegetables. Next add the beans, liquid(s) and preserved lemon. Add salt to taste.
- Bring the soup to a boil. Add the quinoa, lower the heat, cover and let simmer 25 to 30 minutes or until the quinoa (or grain) is cooked.
- Taste. If you want things saltier, add a bit of tamari.
- Remove the Bay leaf and serve. I particularly like this soup topped with a small sprinkling of roasted and ume-salted nuts, but avocado chunks or some vegan yogurt or vegan sour cream would also be great.