Recipe for Disaster: Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup
Recently, I was feeling adventurous in the kitchen – which rarely turns out well. Nevertheless, I donned my chef’s hat and set out to make a vegetarian stew for Meatless Monday. I filled my slow cooker with colourful peppers, spicy jalapeños, veggie broth and most importantly, black beans.
The recipe called for four 15-ounce cans of black beans, rinsed and drained. In my cooking wisdom, I bought a big bag of dried black beans, thinking, “this bag is a lot cheaper than those cans.” I didn’t even need to drain them – they were already dry. After slow cooking the recipe for the called-for four hours, I eagerly opened the lid to find nothing but beans. I couldn’t find the other ingredients, including the broth. Just. Beans.
When I called out in panic, my wiz-in-the-kitchen husband asked: “Did you follow the recipe?”
Of course, I didn’t.
Turns out, you can’t substitute a can of black beans, that has liquid in it, for a bag of dried beans. (Washing and leaving them to dry was a whole other thing, I learned after.)
Most of my kitchen disasters come from not following the recipe word-for-word and making substitutions without any further research. This has happened so many times, and ends with a call to the local pizza place to save dinner.
Not everything I make has been fed to the trash. My best successes came when I followed a video or an article that included helpful tips. Eventually, the more you practice and understand the science behind cooking, the better you’ll be at making substitutions as you go. But for beginners like me, it’s better to just keep it simple. Read the recipe, follow the ingredients and steps (I really can’t emphasize that part enough), and chances are your friends and family will be too busy with their mouths full of seconds and thirds to tell you, “I told you so!”
Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup
1 large white or yellow onion, chopped
2 red bell peppers, cored and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced
4 cups good-quality vegetable stock
4 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained (Definitely not a bag of dried beans)
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a slow cooker, and stir to combine. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours, until all of the vegetables are cooked and tender. Remove the bay leaf.
Serve immediately, as is, for chunky soup; or purée in a blender or food processor to your desired smoothness.
Store in a sealed container for three days in the refrigerator, and up to three months in the freezer.