Mastering The Art of Vegetarian Cooking

Day 43: Black Bean Soup, Quinoa Mufins and Spinach Salad

Sometimes you just can’t catch a break… On Friday the 20th, despite not really intending to cook while Jon was out of town, I decided to attempt black bean soup and muffins, since those are things my kids love. Yes, well…

Well, it LOOKS nice.

The soup is made with Madeira, which I had dutifully purchased for this recipe. My cooking was hampered a bit by the fact that I had a cold and could smell nothing (amazing how your sense of taste depends on smell). I followed the soup instructions closely– cook the vegetables and herbs in butter, stir in tomato sauce, add beans and water and boil, then simmer for an hour. Check. Only at the hour point, the beans weren’t even tender. And that’s when it hit me– I put salt in the vegetables. Now, this is a lesson I learned a long time ago, after several accidental saltings: dried beans don’t like salt. At least not until they’re nearly tender; salt keeps them from cooking properly. So perhaps that was the problem here; I’m not sure. In any case, the end result had not-tender-enough beans and way too much liquid, given that it was supposed to be pureed and served. It was runny, with disturbing chunks of insufficiently tender beans. Not pretty. And then I added the Madeira, and when I put it in front of the kids, Baxter said, “this smells like wine!” Which, apparently, is a bad thing when you’re eight.

At least I was spared Sophie’s “ewwwww” reaction, since she had put herself to bed at 5:00 pm in a fit of pique. They didn’t even like the muffins, particularly, though I liked them a lot. I made them with red quinoa, as suggested by blog reader Max, and they were tasty. Madeline does not like the texture of quinoa, though, and my hope that baking it in a muffin would help was in vain.

Even the salad was weird; it called for sunflower sprouts, but I had no luck finding those. I decided to go with pea shoots instead, knowing it was a far cry, but feeling it better than nothing. Turns out– not really. They were stringy and vaguely unpleasant. Someday I’ll find sunflower sprouts, and I’ll try it again.

So, better luck next recipe…

Black Bean Soup, p. 231; Quinoa Muffins, p. 644; Spinach Salad with Sunflower Seeds and Sprouts, p. 147

Coming up: Cottage Cheese and Nutmeg Pancakes