There’s been a nationwide outbreak of flu in the past few weeks. Our family has been spared as we all got our flu shots in October, but we have been hit by the dreaded common cold! Several members of our family came down with it over the holidays and have hunkered down at home, over dosing on chicken noodle soup.
Tired of chicken noodle from a box, my husband decided to take matters into his own hands: Black Bean and Jalapeno soup from page the American Heart Association Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook!
I should say that while I love my husband, he can be a little challenged in the kitchen, so we were both very happy with how well the recipe turned out and how easy it was to make. He chronicled his experience for the blog (I think in part to show me he followed the recipe exactly!).
I love all things black bean. I put them in my lean turkey chili, I put them on my not-as-healthy nachos (only to be consumed during Sunday football), I’d even eat them raw if they wouldn’t crack my molars.
I also like my food spicy. Authentic Szechuan, hot sauces, curries both Thai and Indian. But I can’t eat Szechuan every day. I wanted a healthy alternative with all the spice intact.
Thus, this soup recipe jumped right off the page at me.
It even came with a warning for people worried the soup might be too spicy:
“Concerned about heat? Discard the seeds and ribs before dicing the peppers.”
“Pish tosh!” I thought. I don’t need to worry about that. I’m going all in: seeds, ribs, everything. I can handle whatever the slow cooker throws at me!
First things first, the beans had to boil.
They only had to boil for a minute or two, but then they had to sit for an hour. This left plenty of time for prepping the rest of the ingredients in the slow cooker. Purists may note the recipe calls for half an onion, which I left out. This was not a matter of taste, but simply a matter of me forgetting to buy an onion. The aroma of the diced green chiles was heavenly, even before I’d fired up the slow cooker. A pinch of this, a half-teaspoon of that, and 3 diced jalapenos and I was ready for the beans.
Warning! Don’t forget to wash your hands after you’ve handled jalapenos, lest you forget and rub your eyes for any reason. Same goes for when you’re cleaning up the seeds from your cutting board.
I set the slow cooker to five hours, and waited as the apartment slowly filled with the scents of spices.
With an hour to go, I impatiently checked on the progress. I was a bit worried, because the soup seemed a bit… soupy. I’m used to black bean soups being a bit thicker, perhaps because they’re made with a different stock.
Turns out my impatience caused needless worry. An hour later the timer went off. I gave it a stir and it had thickened. I let it sit on “warm” for another hour or so, and it was even better.
So how did it taste?
Remember earlier when I was bragging about how much I loved spicy food?
This just about knocked me over. The beans were delicious, a nice texture, plenty of flavor, the peppers weren’t bitter or chewy, everything went down smooth.
And hot. Very hot.
Turns out the American Heart Association had a good reason for putting in that line about the ribs and seeds!
All in all, this soup is delicious. Tons of flavor, very easy to make. I even forgot the olive oil and salt that it tells you to add once the soup is done cooking. Turns out I saved calories and fat, all because my mouth was burning! Be sure to have a tall glass of water handy when taking that first taste.
It turns out there really is a benefit to this recipe if you have a cold: It is guaranteed to clear out your sinuses. Enjoy!
– Leslie Waghorn
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