Black Bean Soup

Serves 4.

Note: This Mexican-inspired recipe evolved from one a friend prepared several years ago. Easy, inexpensive, delicious — what’s not to love? The original recipe called for only ground cumin, but I’ve adopted the Indian technique of toasting a little whole cumin seed as well, mostly because I like the little pop of flavor you get when biting into bits of seed. From Jo Marshall.

• 1 tbsp. olive oil

• 1 medium onion, chopped

• 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced

• Pinch of salt

• 1 tsp. cumin seed

• 2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, rinsed and drained

• 1 1/2 c. vegetable broth

• 1/2 c. prepared salsa

• 1 tsp. ground cumin

• 1/4 c. sour cream

• Chopped green onion, fresh cilantro, shredded cheese and sour cream, for garnish

• Flour tortillas or tortilla chips, for serving


Heat oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Add onion and cook until tender and slightly golden.

Add garlic and a pinch of salt, and stir in cumin seed. Sauté, stirring, over medium heat until garlic and cumin are fragrant. Add black beans and vegetable broth. Heat to boiling, lower to a simmer, then cover and cook 15 to 20 minutes until beans are nice and tender.

Add salsa and ground cumin, then purée with an immersion blender until texture is how you prefer. (You can use a standard blender but only fill container halfway, as hot liquids expand under pressure.)

Return to low heat and stir in sour cream until well blended. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as needed.

Garnish with green onion and cilantro. Cheese and additional sour cream can be passed at the table. Serve with warm flour tortillas, or if you crave some crunch, your favorite tortilla chips.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 290 Fat 7 g Sodium 1,050 mg

Carbohydrates 45 g Saturated fat 2 g Total sugars 4 g

Protein 13 g Cholesterol 5 mg Dietary fiber 16 g

Exchanges per serving: 3 starch, 1 lean protein, ½ fat.



Smoky Yellow Split Peas

Serves 6.

Note: Indian recipes can be intimidating — wrought with unfamiliar techniques and spices that aren’t in your pantry. But not in the hands of local chef, teacher and author Raghavan Iyer. This recipe is from his how-to book, “Indian Cooking Unfolded.”

• 1 lb. potatoes, russets or Yukon Gold

• 1 c. yellow split peas

• 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric

• 2 to 4 dried red cayenne chiles (such as chile de árbol) stems discarded

• 1 tbsp. coriander seeds

• 1 tsp. cumin seeds

• 1 medium tomato, cored and diced

• 2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro, leaves and tender stems

• 1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt


Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1/2-inch cubes. Transfer cubed potatoes to a bowl and add enough cold water to cover.

Put split peas in a medium-sized saucepan, and rinse at the tap, rubbing peas between your fingertips. Tip off water, and repeat 3 to 4 times until water runs relatively clear. Then add 4 cups of water to the pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Scoop out and discard any foam that rises to the surface.

Drain potatoes and add them, along with turmeric, to split peas. Give a stir or two, then reduce heat to medium-low and cover the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes; potatoes should be cooked, and peas should be tender but still intact.

Meanwhile, heat a small skillet over medium-high. Once skillet is hot, add chiles, coriander and cumin. Toast for a minute or two, shaking skillet every few seconds until chiles blacken and seeds are fragrant and turn reddish-brown. Transfer to a blender along with the tomato. Purée, scraping down blender, as needed, to make a smooth paste.

When pea/potato mixture is done, add some of the pea cooking liquid to the blender and purée again for a few seconds. (This helps loosen the paste, assuring you’ll get every last bit.) Pour contents of blender into saucepan. Stir in cilantro and salt.

Increase heat to medium-high and boil vigorously for 12 to 15 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally to let flavors blend, and thicken.

For a thicker mixture, mash some of the peas and potatoes with the back of a spoon. Serve warm over rice.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 180 Fat 1 g Sodium 480 mg

Carbohydrates 35 g Saturated fat 0 g Total sugars 3 g

Protein 9 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 12 g

Exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, 2 starch.



Cumin Yogurt Sauce

Makes about 1 cup.

Note: This Middle Eastern-inspired recipe comes from Cook’s Illustrated as a sauce for either poached chicken breasts or fish. The sauce does not reheat well, so prepare it just before serving.

• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

• 1 shallot, minced

• 1 garlic clove, minced

• 1 tsp. ground cumin

• 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes

• 1/2 c. plain whole-milk yogurt

• 1/3 c. water

• 1 tsp. lime juice

• Salt and pepper

• 2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro or mint


Heat 1 tablespoon oil in small skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add shallot and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in garlic, cumin and pepper flakes, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Remove from heat and whisk in yogurt, 1/3 cup water, lime juice and remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cover to keep warm. Stir in cilantro or mint immediately before serving.

Nutrition information per serving of 2 tablespoons:

Calories 40 Fat 4 g Sodium 10 mg

Carbohydrates 2 g Saturated fat 1 g Total sugars 1 g

Protein 1 g Cholesterol 2 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

Exchanges per serving: 1 fat.