We had a historic snow storm yesterday and I’ve got the sore muscles to prove it. So. much. shoveling. Fortunately, I’ve got the phone numbers for a few neighborhood teenagers looking to earn some extra cash. So this afternoon, I will hunker down with a bowl of black bean soup and gaze out the window, watching them work.

Snow storms make me want to cook soup. In addition to pulling out this tried and true black bean soup recipe, I also made roasted tomato soup and turkey chipotle chili (recipes to come). Black bean soup just makes me happy. Well, anything with cumin and cilantro in it makes me happy. I love how the flavors meld with the beans.

I also like how hearty this soup is. I feel like I’ve eaten a stew more than a soup, and it gives me the energy to do whatever needs doing (like shoveling more snow, or strapping on the snowshoes for a romp in the neighborhood).

Also, this is super easy to make! I tend to use canned beans because, well, I never plan far enough in advance to soak the beans. Either way is great.

Black Bean Soup Recipe

black bean soup recipeServes: 6
Prep time: 10 minutes (if using canned beans)
Cook time: 1 hour and 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cans black beans (or 1 lb bag dried black beans)
  • 4 to 6 cups stock (I used turkey, but you can keep this vegan/vegetarian with vegetable stock)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 Tbs cumin
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • cilantro (as much as you like…I use an entire bunch)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 to 2 tsp salt

Directions

  1. If you’re using dry beans, you need to prep them the night before. Pick over beans and remove any that are an odd color; rinse well. Place in a large bowl with cold water, enough to cover them by 2 inches. Let the beans soak for at least 6 hours or overnight. Drain. To cook, put in a sauce pan and cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 2 hours (I check in every 20 minutes to test and add more water).
  2. Heat oil in a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until tender (about 5 minutes). Add the green pepper and jalapeno, and sauté another 2 minutes. Add the carrot and sauté another 2 minutes.
  3. Add the stock, black beans, cumin, cayenne, cilantro, bay leaf, and salt. Bring to a light boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 1 hour.
  4. Puree about three quarters of the soup in a blender until fairly smooth. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids—they can make the blender explode. I either cool the soup before blending, or I blend in very small batches).
  5. Return the pureed soup to the pot and heat through.
  6. Serve the soup garnished with a pico de gallo (pictured) or dollop of sour cream (or plain greek yogurt) and cilantro, if desired.

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We are about six hours into Snowtastrophe 2016, and so far so good. The snow is getting deep though. I think tomorrow morning isn’t going to be fun. Not so much because I’ll have to shovel a foot of snow, but because three dogs will be anxiously waiting to get out to pee while I’m doing it. Now that is pressure!

Before I turn in for a good night’s sleep, I thought I’d finally post the green beans with mushrooms and bacon recipe I made for Christmas dinner. Yes, I realize that was a month ago. But it’s been a crazy month (being sick, going out of town, and life). Better late than never though.

Also, on a totally unrelated note, my Cherry Blossom 10M training kicked off Thursday night! I’m pretty excited. You can read all about it on Coach Kim’s blog. I’m really hoping this program gets me re-energized about running. I’ve been a little lack luster the past few months. It will be nice to have a reason to show up. But first, the green beans…

Green Beans With Mushrooms and Bacon

source: MyRecipes.com (with very slight modifications on my part)

green beans with mushrooms and baconIngredients

  • 1.25 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 5 bacon slices
  • 3 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 shallot, diced finely
  • 1/4 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Bring about 4 quarts of water to boil in a dutch oven. Reduce heat to medium high and add beans. Cook beans for 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain and set aside.
  2. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium low heat until crisp. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 1/2 Tbsp. drippings in skillet. Discard remaining drippings. Crumble bacon and set aside.
  3. Sauté mushrooms and shallots in hot bacon drippings over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until shallots are tender. Add green beans and crushed red pepper; sauté 1 to 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in crumbled bacon, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, and 1/4 tsp. salt.

You can serve this warm or cool (it was room temperature by the time we ate it, and was delicious).

New Years Day 5k
Me and my BFFs on New Year’s Day (left to right: me, Norma, Laura, Roz, and Debbie)

I will say it — I’m happy to see 2015 go, and I’m excited for what 2016 has in store. Last year was rough. I was sick more than I have been in years. In fact, I spent the first two weeks of January 2015 in bed with the flu, and the last week of 2015 with a horrible cold. I had bronchitis, food poisoning, and a few more colds sprinkled throughout the year.

So… hello 2016. I love you!

One of my primary goals this year is to get stronger and be healthy. Exercise, of course, is a huge part of that. I’ve been running for a few years, and in the last few months have been working on getting faster. For me, that means consistently running a 12 minute mile. No speed records, but for me that is huge.

Yesterday morning I kicked off the new year with a few of my BFFs (best foot forward) in the Potomac River Running New Year’s Day 5k. I’ve done it before, and it is a fun, casual race AND a great way to start the year. Considering I’ve been sick and hadn’t run in a week, and that I had to stop a few times to have a coughing fit, I did well — 12:17. Not my best, but not my worst.

I’m not sure how many races I’ll do this year. I like the 5k races because they’re short and fun, and a place where I really can work on improving my speed. However, I signed up to do the Cherry Blossom 10 miler in April. The following weekend I’m part of a team for the Reston Runners Marathon (I’ll have a 7-mile leg). Am I crazy? Possibly.

Today I will go into Koko FitClub, which I’m trying out for 30 days right now. It’s expensive, but less than boot camp and/or working with a personal trainer. I have admitted that I WILL NOT do strength training on my own, so I need something. So far, I like this. There is enough accountability so I will show up, but I also can do it on my own.

What are your fitness plans for 2016? I’d love to know what is working.