Friday, November 22, 2013

Calamity Cafe's Black Bean Soup (CUN)

clovesGarlic, minced
photo credit: MGF/Lady Disdain
via photopin cc

MedOnions, minced
2TbspOlive oil
lbBlack Beans, dry
tspGround Cumin
Bay Leaf

Green Pepper, Minced fine

Cayenne Pepper, to taste

Salt, to taste

Black pepper, to taste
2small canschicken broth

  1. OK, first off, dry beans are finicky beasts, you can't add any salt or salty products into the cooking until after they're tender or you'll never get them to soften up. There's a complex chemical explanation for this involving the properties of sodium ions which is too deadly boring to explain, just take my word for it.
    The night before you want to make this, pour the dry beans into a colander and wash them thoroughly, pick out any clinkers or rocks you find, then pour the washed beans into a large bowl or Tupperware container and cover with water. If you're familiar with hot soaking beans, you can skip this step and do as you usually might.
  2. NEXT DAY:
    Discard the soak water, fill up a good sized pot with the soaked beans and water (you should have enough room over the beans so that you can cover the beans with 2 inches of water), bring to a slow boil stirring every few minutes, add garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, green pepper, and the bay leaf (leave this leaf whole -- you'll want to pull it out of the pot before serving).
  3. Reduce the heat and cover, simmer for about two (2) hours or until the beans mash easily with only slight pressure. If they've got any fight left in them, keep on cooking. If it takes four hours, it takes four hours, you can't make it any faster. It's normal for some of the beans to break down entirely, this is desired and helps thicken the soup, so don't freak if the beans go all mushy.
  4. As the beans cook, you'll need to replenish the water or they'll burn. This is where you start adding the chicken broth if you've got it, if not just use plain water and cheat AFTER THE BEANS ARE SOFT by adding two chicken bullion cubes or in desperate situations a chicken ramen season packet (but only one of those bad boys or you'll be gagging on the salt).
  5. Here is where you taste the soup and figure out if you want to add pepper or cayenne pepper, it won't take much. Adding a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce will give it some zip if it tastes a little flat, adding the bacon grease or oil will make the soup richer and more savory, just be sure to stir it in well.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Carrie and Joe's Favorite Cheese Soup (from Calamity Cafe)

photo credit: Nataraj Metz via photopin cc

2 qtHalf-n-half or heavy whipping cream
2 sticksButter
2/3 cupFlour
2-3 lbsShredded cheddar (either all yellow or part white)
1/4 lbfresh fried bacon, crumbled
1 cup Croutons (soaked in melted butter)

Paprika (to taste)

Onion Powder (to taste)

Garlic Powder (to taste)

Garlic Powder (to taste)

White pepper (to taste)

  1. Heat half-n-half to just below boiling (DO NOT BOIL!)
  2. In a separate pan, melt 1 stick of butter and add the flour flour, do not allow to brown or scorch.
  3. Add flour-butter mixture (roux) to heated half-n-half, stir over medium heat, it is now safe to allow to slow boil if you must, let simmer while you stir frequently until it starts to thicken until it coats the spoon rather than runs off.
  4. Add handfuls of cheddar while stirring, will vary in colour and consistency depending on the dryness of the cheddar. Sharp cheddar, which is pretty damned dry, may be stringy in consistency when melted, so I don't recommend it. 
  5. If the soup seems a bit bland, hit it with a dash of white pepper or maybe put in a heaping tablespoon of grated parmasean or some other sharp cheese, don't cook it, just stir it in so it gets spread around fairly well.
  6. Melt the second stick of butter, add some garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika to get it good and orange, drop in the croutons, toast up in a medium oven.
  7. When the soup is something like a gravy in consistency, serve into bowls, top with bacon crumbles and butter-logged croutons, sprinkle with paprika, tah-dah, done.