Tag Archives: red peppers

Quick and Easy Black Bean Soup

During my post-holiday blues, I used cooking to drown out my sorrows. I didn’t plan it that way consciously, but as a new day dawned and I had to wrangle up something to occupy my mind and take it off my achy heart, cooking was a natural direction to head. After my morning coffee and Bible time, I opened up a cookbook and dreamed away. What did my taste buds want to experience that evening? Something deep and smoky? Light and bright? Comfort food or something a little more razzle-dazzle? After making a grocery list for the day and traipsing down to the Devon Market (which is so conveniently located right next to our apartment), I spread out my goodies on the kitchen counter and gazed with pleasure at the bower of cilantro, the neatly ranged cans of beans, and the glorious meaty pink of salmon fillets.

Having long kitchen projects with multiple courses involved was so therapeutic! And it was also a useful (and necessary) thing to put my hand to since we had our friend Tyler in town, my brother-in-law staying with us, and a couple dinner parties lined up. So I focused my efforts on flank steak, salsas, soups, fish, and threw together bacon omelets on a whim.

With pauses of course to care for this little thang.

Who, incidentally, put on her fussiest behavior especially for her Uncle Tyler!

Yup. She was a basket of neediness, that delightful little stinker.

Hey! I will fuss WHERE I want, WHEN I want, hear me?

And–back to food–in case you haven’t noticed my recent recipe posts, yes, I’m officially obsessed with soups. Namely the ones in the America’s Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook. This one graced the table accompanied by rice, honey-lime salmon and freshly made toasts. I love a good bean soup, and what sets this one apart is the rich, smoky, meaty flavor of Spanish chorizo. Mmmmmm.

It’s quick to throw together, so grab a can opener and a sharp knife, and make ye this soup!


(Serves 4-6)

4-15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups chicken broth
8 oz Spanish chorizo sausage, diced
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 TBS vegetable oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp chili powder
1 bunch green onions, minced
½ cup minced cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Process 2 cups of black beans and 1 cup of broth in a blender until smooth.

2. In a large pot or Dutch oven, combine the oil, sausage, onion and bell pepper and heat over medium high. Cook until vegetables are slightly browned (about 7 minutes).

3. Add the garlic and spices to the pot and cook for about 30 seconds, until fragrant.

4. Add the broth, beans and blended broth/beans to the pot, stirring together and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom.

5. Simmer for 15 minutes, taste, and re-season if needed.

6. Stir in the cilantro and green onions and serve hot! Garnish with hot sauce and crusty bread or croutons if desired.

Click here for printer-friendly version: Quick and Easy Black Bean Soup

Roasted Red Pepper Couscous with Avocado and Mozzarella

I am so pleased with this simple little recipe, a variation on this original (once again identified in my TastyKitchen perusings). It’s full of flavor. It’s simple and quick. I know I’ll be coming back to it for weeknight meals.

A few things: the avocado and mozzarella are not just garnishes; they are 100% necessary to the dish. Since I used jarred roasted red peppers (my grocery store was out of fresh ones–I wonder if Mardi Gras had something to do with that), the acidity level of the couscous with the sauce would have been too high for me to enjoy it by itself. However, once the avocado and mozzarella were stirred in, everything became balanced and beautiful, and I sighed with pleasure. I used a pinch of sugar to counteract the acidity, but if you roast your own peppers you can probably get by without.

This could work as a fun side dish to fish or chicken, or you can top it off with an egg or two and call it a meal! That’s what we did, and what we will be doing again.


(Serves 2)

1 cup dry Israeli couscous
3 roasted red peppers
2 cloves garlic
1 TBS sherry or white wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 TBS olive oil
1 pinch sugar, optional (especially if using jarred peppers)
1 whole avocado
1 sprinkling lemon juice
1 cup torn fresh mozzarella or bocconcini
4 fried or hard boiled eggs (optional, to make this into a full meal)

If you’ve never made Israeli couscous, you’re in for a treat. They grains are much larger than ‘regular’ couscous, and have a delightful chew to them when cooked al dente.

I think what I used may be whole wheat, but I bought it so long ago that I can’t remember.

Anyway, Israeli couscous cooks just like pasta, so let’s start off by boiling some water.

When it comes to a boil, add the couscous and cook it for about 7 minutes, until it’s al dente.

All of a sudden I’m looking at that picture and thinking “rabbit food pellets.” Ew. Try not to think that–banish it from your mind! This is not pet food. This is not pet food. Or pet, um droppings.

When it’s done, drain the couscous and pour it back into the pot.

In the meantime, grab ye the remaining ingredients.

Toss the roasted red peppers in a blender.

Examine it from a few different angles, just for the heck of it.

Toss in the peeled garlic cloves, salt and pepper . . .

. . . and the vinegar and olive oil too.

Press blend. It just needs about a minute in there, and you can stop as soon as it’s starting to get smooth. I think that leaving a little texture is quite desirable.

Also, please use a top on your blender. Don’t be like me and have a nearly explosive disaster only averted by the quick placement of the palm of your hand.

Very important step: taste the sauce and if there’s too much acidity, adjust with a pinch of sugar. The acidity will be greater if you use jarred red peppers; roasting your own will probably make the addition of sugar unnecessary. And am I ever glad that further testing is required! I love further testing.

With the heat on medium, add the sauce to the couscous and cook for about 5 minutes.

I love that fiery sunset orange color.

It will start off looking a little soupy, so cook it until the couscous passes the ‘drag’ test (when you drag a spatula across the bottom of the pot, the area doesn’t immediately fill with liquid).

Taste again and adjust the seasoning.

Cut the avocado into slivers, and sprinkle them with lemon juice to prevent browning.

Tear up some fresh mozzarella pieces, or simply use halved bocconcini. Lightly salt both the avocado and the cheese.

Some day I need to sing a canticle in honor of avocado. Words just can’t express my love.

Stir the avocado and mozzarella into the couscous, and serve!

I can’t emphasize enough how necessary the avocado and mozzarella are to this dish. Please believe me. They turn it from ‘meh’ into ‘mwahhahahaaa!!!’

You can make a pretty arrangement with it, but unless there’s a camera involved, it’s probably not worth it. Here’s how it really looks once you start chowing down:


If you want to make it into a full meal, top it off with 4 hardboiled or fried eggs (2 per person). That is the absolute best way to eat it.

Click here for printer-friendly version: Roasted Red Pepper Couscous with Avocado and Mozzarella