Friday, November 5, 2010

Easy Peasy Jamaican Black Bean Soup with Dumplings

Black bean soup with boiled dumplings
I found this recipe on a website called ethnic spicy food and I know Jamaican foodies would say, where is the oxtail? Where is the salt beef? And they would be right. But for a quick and easy meal with that authentic taste and is ready in 20 minutes--well this is it.

2 15-ounce cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 medium red sweet pepper, chopped fine
2-4 cloves garlic, minced (add more or less to taste)
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 small scotch bonnet pepper, minced and seeded (for more heat, use seeds at your discretion!)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
2 teaspoons dried thyme (I didn't have any. Oops!)
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (increased from 1/2 cup)
2 Italian sausages (sweet or hot), fried and sliced (my addition, and this is optional)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped finely (tastes better than dried parsley in the original recipe!)

Cook the vegetables. In a 12 inch sauce pan, heat the oil. Sauté the onions, sweet pepper, garlic, ginger, and scotch bonnet pepper for 3 to 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender. I watch the onion. When it wilts and turns transparent, then the vegetables are crisp-tender. Add the broth, thyme, and the drained beans. Bring to a boil. Then simmer 15-20 minutes. Add the salt.

Puree the vegetables. While the soup is simmering, fry the sausages. Chop cooked sausages into chunks and set aside. When the vegetables are cooked through, spoon half of the pot into a blender or food processor. Pulse until the vegetables become a thick purée. Return the purée to the pot and mix with the remainder of the vegetables. The soup will become that characteristic red-brown color that we call Stew Peas on the island.

Add the finishing touches. Add the coconut milk, sausage chunks, and cilantro. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve with dumplings.

All right. That was easy. And so far, the soup was fairly low in calories and fat. But dumplings? Are all those carbs necessary? Well, you can leave out the dumplings if you want, but authentic Stew Peas must have dumplings! This recipe is my mom's and it's oh-so easy to make!

Boiled Dumplings
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons all vegetable shortening (sure, less guilt!)

Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Put the shortening in a glass one-cup measure and fill with water to the top of the line. Microwave for about 60 seconds. Stir. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add 2/3 of the shortening-water mixture to the flour and stir with a wooden spoon. Add about 1 tablespoon of the reserved water to the mixture to make a sticky dough. 

Boil about 4 cups of water. Pinch off about 1/2 tablespoon of dough and roll it between your hands to make a short  stumpy cigar. Put each dumpling in the boiling water and return the water to the boil. When cooked through, the dumplings will rise to the top.

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