Latin Black Bean Soup

Serves 4

(No gluten, dairy, cane sugar; with options for soy, nightshades, and plant/animal protein).

Pureeing half of the soup gives it a thick, creamy texture along with the visual benefits of the remaining diverse and chunky pieces. The lime juice added at the end provides an important percussive tang. Both legumes such as beans, and tart citrus juices significantly slow the breakdown of the meal’s entire carbohydrate content into glucose. This means that blood sugar and vitality levels are gradually raised and sustained. This prevents post-meal fatigue and makes inappropriate weight gain less likely. Legumes are high in sustaining plant protein and the bowel’s favourite fare: soluble fibre.

Soup has an ancient heritage as a healing dietary therapy. Modern studies support its claims, in part due to the immune boosting power of specific amino acids such as cysteine, which are released into stock made from simmered bones. Additions such as garlic and chilli particularly help the respiratory system release clogged mucous and any bacterial or other invaders it might hide (maybe wait until after dinner to offer this insight!). Accompany the soup with toast spread with avocado, hummus or my popular Dynamite spread (see The Shape Diet).

2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil*
3 preservative-free: slices dry-cured bacon, or sliced venison sausages, or
sliced soy sausages
1 cup cubed pumpkin/squash
¾ cup chopped cabbage
1 small kumara/sweet potato, cubed
1 medium courgette/zucchini, thinly sliced
6 mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 fresh red chilli, chopped, or pinch wasabi*/horseradish to taste
1 Tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp ground allspice
2 cups homemade or top quality vegetable, chicken or meat stock*
1 cup cooked or tinned, drained black beans*
2 tsp sea salt with kelp*

juice of 2 small limes
chopped parsley

In a soup pot, over low to medium heat, fry the bacon or sausages in olive oil until lightly browned. Turn the heat to low and add the pumpkin, cabbage, kumara, courgette, mushrooms, garlic, chilli or option. Fry about 5 minutes until slightly tender – do not brown the vegetables. Add the coriander, cumin seed and allspice. Cook about 3 minutes.

Add the stock, beans and salt. Cover, bring to a boil and then simmer about 15 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Pushing the sausage or option basically to one side, puree half the mixture using a stick blender directly in the pot. Or transfer half to a blender, puree and return to the pot. Immediately before serving add the lime juice and stir well. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Shopping and Preparation Tips*

• Legumes: pod-bearing plants such as peas, beans, soy and lentils. Soak overnight and discard water to help eliminate an enzyme that can lead to poor digestion and gas. Add ample fresh water. Bring to a boil uncovered (watch for foaming; do not add salt as this slows cooking) until soft enough to squeeze between your fingers. They will almost triple in volume. See The Shape Diet for individual cooking times. Or buy cooked and tinned (Ceres and Delmaine brands in supermarkets have only salt, water). Cook extra and freeze, or chill and use within a week in fritters, casseroles, salads, soups, stews.

• Olive Oil: extra virgin olive oil is achieved by using cold mechanical pressure rather than the high heat and chemical solvents typical to most supermarket oils. These practices damage oils and the people who eat them. For information on which fats to choose for which purpose and why, see my article on the TIPS page: The Fats of Life.

• Sea salt: is sea water dehydrated by sun. When mixed with seaweed (containing iodine and other minerals low in our soil) it is ideal in terms of flavour (interesting but not too strong) and mineral balance. Try Pacific Harvest or Malcolm Harker brands; both in health and gourmet stores. Ordinary salt is taken from mines or sea and so highly refined over extreme heat that it contains nothing but sodium chloride. All other minerals are stripped away, such as potassium and magnesium which help regulate fluid balance and blood pressure. Bleach as a whitener and chemicals to prevent clumping may be added to table salt.

• Stock: use homemade meat or fish stock from simmered bones for maximum flavour and nutrients or vegetable stock (see The Shape Diet), or top quality purchased stock such as Essential Cuisine (in soft pouches in supermarket chiller or meat section). Most supermarket stock has sugar, wheat and artificial additives (see website TIPS: MSG). Traditionally miso soup and many other Japanese dishes are made with dashi – a stock made from bonito fish (dried flakes can be purchased in Asian stores and some supermarkets).

• Wasabi: similar to most pickled ginger, most wasabi is artificially coloured. Mitoku brand sells powdered wasabi (a type of horseradish) which can be mixed with a little water to instantly form a naturally green paste.

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