Recently, I went to the grocery store without much of a plan. I knew I wanted to make a healthy soup, as we had recently been on vacation and eating more than our normal share of sweets and indulgent food.
This unpreparedness can result in one of two results: leaving the store with nothing that will work for dinner, or, somehow finding the right blend of ingredients to create something special. Trust me, I have had my fair share of both of these failures and successes. I do typically like to shop from a list so my attention deficit disorder doesn’t get the best of me.
I knew I was going to grab black beans, but the rest was up in the air. I saw a bag of kale and went for it, and then decided on a couple of cans of fire-roasted tomatoes, which I like in just about everything. I had vegetable stock, garlic and onions. When I walked past the meat aisle in the Whole Grocer I saw some interesting looking turkey chorizo. So that was pretty much the makings of dinner.
I had also come home from vacation with a fresh supply of Aleppo pepper from a market in Seattle. If you have never used this pepper before, you should try it. It is more prevalent in Middle Eastern and Turkish cuisine, but I love it for the mellow, bright spice. Plus, the bright red color adds an interesting hue to an otherwise bland dish.
This time the resulting dinner was one of the best soups I have made in a long time. It was flavorful, fresh tasting and light but at the same time, hearty enough for dinner. My husband said, “it’s the best soup ever” but he, thankfully, says that a lot.
I posted a picture of this on Instagram and got a lot of requests for the recipe, so I wanted to get it out as soon as I could (if you want to see lots of food photos follow me on Instagram at Dishingjh).
I served the soup with cornbread croutons, which I made by cutting homemade cornbread into cubes and toasting them in a pan over medium heat until the edges were just crisp. I then sprinkled the bowl with a fresh grating of Parmesan cheese on top of the whole dish.
It was a completely satisfying and healthy meal I will surely make again. You can easily leave out the meat for a vegan dish and not miss it a bit. You could also substitute white beans or garbanzo beans for the black beans if you prefer, or do one can of black, one of white.