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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup... in Summer

The weather in the Twin Cities has been gorgeous.  No clouds, bright sun, blue skies, breezy and in the 80's.  I've been spoiled so far with some time to ride my bike and explore routes I'd never traveled.  Yesterday, I went on a longer bike ride through both St. Paul and Minneapolis.  

I parked my car at school and made my way through so many awesome places I had never seen before.  The route took me through Como (around the lake, past the zoo and conservatory and by ComoTown), through the MN State Fairgrounds, through the U's St. Paul campus, then, via the intercampus transitway, through the U's MPLS campus.  I passed through Dinkytown and made my way to the Stone Arch Bridge where I saw a beautiful view of the city skyline. 

Then I continued on the path by the river until I turned into the city and drove down 1st Avenue North during the lunch hours.  So many people were out eating lunch and getting excited for the evening's Twins game.  I was ever so impressed with the bike lanes inside the city.  No one gets in your way!  (Not so impressive was the fact that I hit every single red light on that 1-mile long stretch.)  I eventually turned on 11th (yep, I got stuck at 11 red lights) and merged onto the Cedar Lake Trail which passes the new Twins stadium.  I was impressed with both.  The stadium is great (though it can't beat PNC Park) and the trail was so secluded and calm.  The running trail was recently voted best place to run by City Pages.   

Yep, still going... I made my way to Lake of the Isles.  Oh my goodness!  What do people do for a living over there?  The houses were beautiful and right inside the city limits.  It reminded me of Lake Minnetonka, but you could still see the city skyline!  Then, I made my way around Lake Calhoun (super crowded), Lake Harriett (slightly less crowded, but I met a lovely elderly biker friend and contemplated buying mini-doughnuts and ice cream (I had missed lunchtime)), down the Minnehaha Parkway (where I flipped on my bike and didn't unclip in time.  I'm ok; just some bumps and a bruised ego), around Lake Nokomis, past the Minnehaha Falls, across the bridge where Ron and I got engaged, onto Mt. Curve Blvd (more beautiful houses), on Mississippi River Blvd, and finally, back on Summit to head to my car at Mitchell.

Phew.  That was a long explanation.  But, the bike ride was amazing.  Despite the fact that my route directions were so small that I couldn't read them.  And, despite the fact that I got lost several, several times so that my 36 mile bike ride actually clocked out to 50+ miles.  And, despite the fact that I have a wicked sunburn going on (I wore a short sleeve bike jersey, so my sunburn starts mid-arm, stops at my watch, and starts back up again on my hands).  And, despite the fact that I flipped my bike and got pretty hurt (I was hungry and didn't bring enough food to fuel so I nearly fainted; thank goodness for caribou coffee multigrain bagels and the $2 I had with me), the bike ride was an amazing success.  I can't wait for out-of-towners to visit so I can take them on this ride.  It is honestly the best possible way to tour the cities!  Fantastic eateries along the way.  Beautiful scenery and a ton of fun!  I was cruising at a leisurely pace.  Anyone could do this bike ride!

So, it's odd that with such plentiful sunshine, I was craving a winter-based comfort food.  Yep, I wanted soup.  I had checked out a recipe for a Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup a few months ago.  And, I've been thinking about it ever since.  So, I made it.  And, I'm glad I did.  Ron wasn't too thrilled about the fact that I made soup, but he ate it, and judging by the "spoon scraping an empty bowl" coming from the other room, I knew he was happy.  He said it was delicious and I agreed.  It was kind of a mix of fall flavors fused with Mexican.  I adapted it slightly from the recipe below.  It made a small batch.  Next time, I'd probably add more broth to make it more soupy.  

Keep this in your to-make recipe file for the winter months.  Maybe plan on it for late October :)

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup
adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 x sweet potato, chopped and peeled
  • 1 roasted red pepper, chopped (can use jarred)
  • 1-2 cans vegetable broth, 14 ounce cans
    • I used 1 can, but next time, would probably use about 1.5-2.  Add more as needed to suit your preference.
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can southwestern style corn
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1/2 T chili powder
  • 1 t cumin
  • sprinkle red pepper
  • salt and pepper, cheese, guac, tortilla strips, optional
  1. Heat T olive oil in large soup pot on M-M/H heat.
  2. Saute onion until translucent.
  3. Add 2 cloves garlic and saute until fragrant.
  4. Stir in sweet potato and red pepper.  Cook for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add vegetable broth, water, beans, corn, and tomatoes.  Stir.
  6. Add spices:  chili powder, cumin, red pepper.  Stir.
  7. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  8. Serve warm with optional toppings.

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