Church and community cookbooks…

I have written about my love of all Junior League cookbook collections; however, I don’t think any definitive cookbook collection would be complete without a few church or community cookbooks.  These are nearly always self-published, sometimes a little rough-around-the-edges, and absolutely full of great recipes.  I love to peruse through our old church cookbook, remember this dish that was a staple at potluck meals or that punch recipe that was always featured at every shower.  Mostly though, I like to look back at my grandmother’s recipes that were included in the church cookbook, remembering her in her kitchen, especially during the holidays, preparing every meal with love.

 Here is one that my mother had modified from a bean soup recipe found in our old church cookbook; I have modified her alterations as well.

This soup is simmering on the stove with the ham bone from our Thanksgiving meal. 

Soup simmering.

Simmering away.

The aroma is wonderful.  This recipe is definitely a comfort food, but you can add some gourmet twists to elevate simple bean soup if you feel the need (see options below.)

Black Bean Soup

1 lb. dried black beans
2 T. olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 large green pepper, seeded, cored, and diced
5-6 cloves garlic, mashed and minced
1/2 T. ground coriander
1/2 T. dried oregano
1 meaty ham bone
2 qt. low-salt beef stock
1 qt. water
1 large fresh bay leaf
pinch of ground cloves
1 T. balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

Soak beans overnight in cold water; drain.  In a large stock pot, heat olive oil and saute onions and green peppers for 5 minutes.  Add garlic, coriander and oregano to onions and peppers and cook for 2 more minutes. 

Drain and rinse soaked beans.  Add beans, beef stock and water to onions and peppers.  Add ham bone, cloves and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for at least one hour.   Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in vinegar before serving.  Serve as is or refer to options below.

Options # 7 and 8

1.  Remove about 2/3 of the beans and puree.  Then, return to soup.
2.  Top with sour cream and chopped hard-boiled eggs.
3.  Serve with cooked rice.
4.  Add 8.5 oz. jar of oil-packed dried tomatoes, chopped.
5.  Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.
6.  Garnish with chopped green onions.
7.  Serve with a soft-fried egg on top.
8.  Serve with warm tortillas.
Mix and match or come up with your own options.

(When I don’t have a ham bone that needs used, I fry up 1 lb. of thick sliced bacon—omit the olive oil and saute the veggies in bacon fat.  I add the bacon after beans have been cooked, right before serving to reheat.)

Black Bean on FoodistaBlack Bean

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