Yes another soup, but then it's that time of year when something warming and straightforward is what I am looking for.
Last night the electricity went off and I was plunged into darkness, fortunately I have a torch and I was able to get to the fuse box. After a great deal of tracking down the culprit, it turned out to be the boiler. This could not have happened at a worse time of year with temperatures out there at minus 5. Having spoken to the nice people at Keston, I have arranged for someone to come and look at it on Friday of next week and the part that they will need, will come in to them a week to ten days after that, so it's going to a be a chilly fortnight.
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As a child I was not over fond of meat, I have now been a vegetarian who occasionally eats fish, for over 40 years but I do have memories of enjoying of all things ox tail soup. I have to say this was not made at home from actual tails of oxen, but heated up out a tin, it was at least Baxters and in those days this felt like a legitimate excuse. For all its dodgy provenance, it delivered a hot, full flavoured soup, rich brown in colour and very satisfying. I was amazed to find this black bean soup that I made up today delivered a similar deep rich flavour and colour, so I shall call this my vegetarian ox tail soup. If you can have mock turtle soup, then I think I can have vegetarian ox tail.
You will need:
200g of black beans, soaked overnight and cooked until tender.
2 medium onions, chopped
2 red peppers, seeded and chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
chopped parsley, around 30g
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon of course black papper
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of paprika
1 small tin of tomatoes
2 litres of vegetable stock
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Begin by gently frying the cumin seeds in the olive oil for a minute or two. Then cook the onion and the chopped peppers for around 5 minutes, making sure they become translucent but don't take on too much colour. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another couple of minutes before adding the remaining spices and the tinned tomatoes. Gently cook these together for 10 minutes on a low heat. Add the cooked black beans with the water they have been cooked in along with 2 litres of vegetable stock. If you are not interested in keeping this vegetarian you could substitute chicken stock at this point. Bring to a simmer and continue to cook covered for a further 10 minutes on a low heat. Blend in batches until you achieve a rich brown smooth soup. I usually add 25g of unsalted butter when I blend this sort of soup, you add to the richness but avoid the milky flavour that you would get from adding cream.
This soup, like many others is made even nicer with the addition of cheese croutons, simply cube up some day old bread, fry in a little oil over a gentle heat until all surfaces look toasted, before transferring to a baking sheet and sprinkling on 20g of grated cheese, place in a medium (180C) oven for 10 minutes. It's hard not to munch on these while you're waiting for friends to join you for lunch, so make lots.