Friday, March 30, 2012

Easy Black Bean Soup & A Petition to Keep BPA Out of Our Food

I don't eat a lot of boxed and canned food. But a lot of people do. And some things are cheaper and more convenient that way. One of the things I do buy cans of: black beans. They're just so much easier than dried. And there's no angst because you forgot to soak the beans. Or at the other end of the spectrum forgot they were soaking and let them go moldy. I'm guilty of both charges.

But I get a little nervous every time I reach for this convenience because the cans are often lined with BPA. Bisphenol A is a chemical often found in plastics. It's a hormone disruptor that can be especially toxic to kids and pregnant women. It can be found all over the place, including in shower curtains, baby bottles, register receipts, and lining all kinds of food packaging including some baby formulas and lots of canned goods. It's even in the lids of my beloved Ball jars. While some companies have already responded to public outcry and removed BPA from their products, it's still everywhere, including leaching into canned goods like black beans.

In a few days the Food and Drug Administration is supposed to respond to a lawsuit concerning the use of BPA in packaged foods. Tons of organizations have been petitioning to ban BPA in food packaging. It's a no brainer. That's why I'm asking you to take a moment and sign the petition to the FDA. Do it now. Tell the FDA you don't want food with a side order of BPA and then come back and I'll tell you about this soup. For those of you who want to know more about BPA, here's a short article about how widespread BPA contamination is and the Huffington Post has another article about all the organizations, celebs, and petitions that support the ban of BPA.
And now for the recipe! I love this black bean soup because it comes together in a half hour or less, but tastes restaurant caliber, especially the next day. It also requires like -10 cooking skill. Seriously, if you can push stuff around in a pan and own a blender or immersion blender, you're golden. You only need a few ingredients and it's really forgiving in terms of measurements. This would be a great first recipe to get into making soups.

First up, you chop and saute a half pound of chorizo.
Then you take the chorizo out and saute a couple of bell peppers and some onion.
Then you add a can of black beans, some wine, broth, and a few seasonings. And puree.
The you add the chorizo back in and another can of beans.
Simmer a few minutes just to heat through and serve with dollops of sour cream and cilantro.

Easy Black Bean Soup
Adapted from Eating Cuban
Serves 6
Cooking Time: Approx. 30 min.


1/2 pound chorizo (If you can't find chorizo, you could sub Italian sausage.)
2 bell peppers, chopped (I like red or yellow, but green work too.)
1 medium onion (about 1 1/2 cups), chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons cumin
2 15 ounce cans black beans, with liquid (Try to look for beans with little or no added salt.)
1/4 cup red cooking wine (or just sub dry red wine)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup chicken broth
salt, to taste
olive oil, for sauteeing
cilantro & sour cream, for garnish


1. Squeeze the chorizo out of its casing and roughly chop. Saute over medium heat for a few minutes until cooked through and beginning to brown on the outside. Remove from pan and set aside.

2. Add some olive oil to the same pan and add the onion and bell pepper. Saute until the onions and peppers begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the garlic, cumin, and oregano and saute until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.

4. Add 1 can of beans with the liquid from the can, the wine, sugar, and broth.

5. Puree with an immersion blender.

6. Return the chorizo to the pan and add the other can of beans with its liquid. Stir and add salt if needed. Once, heated through the soup is ready to go, but you can simmer a few more minutes to meld the flavors a little more. This soup is even better day 2 and 3.

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