Black Bean Soup with Red Spring Onions and Garlic Scapes

Black Bean Soup with Red Spring Onions and Garlic Scapes-
With a beautiful crop of garlic scapes from my home garden and red spring onions available at the Troy Farmers Market, www.troymarket.org, which is near my home in Albany, N.Y., as well as a big jar full of organic black beans, grown near Ithaca in upstate New York, in the cupboard, www.cporganics.com, I had most of the makings for a rich black bean soup. Though ripe garden tomatoes were still weeks away, I compromised and used a 20 ounce can of Muir Glen organic whole peeled tomatoes, www.muirglen.com. [Although Muir Glen, as Michael Pollan in his Omnivore’s Dilemma (New York, The Penguin Press, 2006, at p. 154) pointed out, has become a part of a mini-industrial conglomerate known as Cascadian Farms, their canned tomatoes nonetheless bear the USDA Organic seal and are packed in a lead-free enamel can, and when they go on sale at the Honest Weight Food Coop, the food coop in my hometown of Albany, NY, www.hwfc.com, I stock up with a few cans for the cupboard. The tomato crop in upstate New York was very poor last summer and the ones that ripened up were used fresh, with no extras for canning.]

The 4 red spring onions, purchased at the Troy Farmers Market from a Hudson Valley farm, Maynard Farms, www.maynardfarms.com (a weekly vendor at the Troy farmers market), were juicy and tender and resembled leeks in their appearance. The edible portion is limited to the bulby bottom and a couple inches up the stalk. The rest is too tough for use in this soup. [According to the grower, spring crops are about three weeks early this year in the Hudson Valley, which explained the availability of the red onions in early June.] I like to saute vegetables in Napa Valley Naturals organic olive oil, www.napavalleytrading.com. According to the bottle, this extra virgin and organic, first cold pressing, olive oil was “from California’s Sacramento Valley and Argentina’s Cordoba Valley.” [I had purchased the olive oil on sale at the local food coop for $9.99. The 25.4 ounce bottle, which is regularly priced at $15.99 at the coop, was a nice bargain at the sale price.] To compliment the sweet tasting young red onions and garlicky scapes, a tablespoon of Simply Organic crushed red pepper, www.simplyorganicfoods.com adds some spicy heat. [I like to keep a bottle of crushed red pepper in the cupboard and wait until it goes on sale at the food coop- regularly priced at $4.09, it was a bargain on sale at $2.49. As a long term member of the Honest Weight Food Coop, I know that in the course of the year, sales occur and that’s when spices and certain basics are best to purchase. In addition, my coop has a strong contingent of working members who are entitled to a 10% discount on their purchases if they work 3 hours each month, or 25% if they work 3 hours each week.]

1 cup of black beans, soaked overnight, before using
4 red young onions which resemble leeks (bulby bottom and couple of inches up the stalk)
6 garlic scapes
¼ cup olive olive
1 Tbsp crushed red pepper
20 ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes
1 cup of water

Chop into small pieces the 6 garlic scapes and 4 red spring onions. In a medium sized pot, saute the chopped vegetables in 1/4 cup olive oil on low heat until soft and yellowish (about 10-15 minutes). Rinse the black beans, which have soaked overnight, in cold water and drain well. Add to the pot with 20 ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes and cup of water. Bring nearly to a boil and lower temperature to a low simmer. Stir in tablespoon of crushed red pepper. Continue simmering, with occasional stirrings of the pot, until beans are tender (approximately 2 hours). From time to time, I would taste the beans to see if they were softening up. If necessary, continue to simmer the soup longer until the beans are tender. Serve with a helping of organic brown rice and a dollop of home-made or local yogurt or a grated local hard cheese, for a satisfying, nutritious and inexpensive meal. [FB 6/6/10]

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