Sometimes leftovers are a pain.
But sometimes, just sometimes, they are a boon.
Tinned beans are a thing of the past around here since the purchase last year of a good quality, sturdy and, most importantly, safe pressure cooker. In less than half an hour we can have perfectly cooked cannellini beans, tossed while still warm with a finely chopped mixture of garlic, fresh parsley and pine nuts. In twenty minutes, black (turtle) beans are ready for a chilli, heartily spiced then served with shards of oven-crisped pita bread, dollops of cold, thick yoghurt and creamy avocado dice.
Quite often though, I look at the broth the beans have cooked in and despair just a little. It’s full of flavour; full of goodness. Though tipping the liquid onto the garden is an option, the one most often resorted to, wastage of late has made me feel, well, wasteful. Maybe I'm getting old.
Last nights’ chilli yielded a delicious and workable amount of broth, flavoured with kombu (I always cook beans, regardless of cuisine, with a small piece to help digestion), 2 whole shallots and a large pinch of asafetida powder. Some of the beans dissolved just a little, satisfyingly thickening the whole, and I deliberately held back a spoonful of the beans to make something today. A soup, cooked with a large handful of tender, shredded gai laan (Chinese broccoli) leaves and topped with a sweet/spicy salsa. It’s great. Greater still is the peace of mind actually using leftovers can bring.
gai laan leaves
Black bean broth with greens and salsa
This is one of those flexible recipes therefore it is difficult to give exact quantities. It’s dependent entirely on just how much bean broth you have leftover – so gauge your servings as your hunger dictates. One litre (1 quart) or so of broth will feed two to three people quite happily. Reserve a large spoonful of the beans and place them back into the broth until you’re ready to cook the next day– it will give the soup a little more body. Use any greens you like. Spinach, silverbeet (chard) or sorrel would all work as well as the gai laan leaves.
½ avocado, peeled and diced
Small handful of cherry tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons of cumin seeds, ground
1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped
Leftover broth from cooking black (turtle) beans
A large spoonful of the beans (optional)
A large handful or 2 of greens
1 tablespoon of tamari, or more, to taste
Bread, toasted, to serve
To make the salsa, mix the diced avocado, tomatoes and sweet chilli sauce together in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the onion and cook over a medium heat until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the cumin and garlic, stir fry for a minute then pour in the bean broth and reserved black beans. Scrape the bottom of the pan to release any golden bits and bring to the boil.
Meanwhile, shred the greens into ribbons. When the soup boils, reduce the heat to a simmer and add the greens. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until the greens are tender. Add tamari to taste and simmer for a moment or two longer. Taste and add a little more tamari if you feel it is needed. Serve in deep bowls with a large helping of salsa spooned on top.