Red bean soup.

We’re going on a little vacation this weekend, so it’s nice to not have to buy groceries and also use up the stuff in the fridge. Also, periodically, I like to make a ton of soup, which can be frozen in containers for lunches. The timing was perfect for this soup, which is equal parts cheap to make and tasty to eat – the sweet potato gives the soup great texture and a touch of sweetness, and the combination of chipotle and lime makes it seriously flavourful.

It’s super good for you – low in fat, high in fibre, and filled with healthy stuff. Also, it goes very well with cold beer. So, no one loses!

Even if you don’t have this stuff in your fridge, I recommend a trip to the market to make this one on a weeknight. It’ll take you about an hour, not including the time to soak the beans – just plan ahead a bit, setting the beans to soak before you leave for work. And the leftovers are even better the next day.

Red bean soup

(Serves four to six.)

  • 1/2 lb. dried red kidney beans, soaked for eight hours
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small sweet potato, diced (about one cup, but if you end up with a bit more, just use it)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 5.5 oz. can tomato paste
  • 2 to 4 chipotles (or to taste), chopped
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Water

Drain and thoroughly rinse beans. Don’t use the liquid you soaked the beans in, because that liquid contains something like 80% of the farty compounds that make beans so unpleasant sometimes. If you drain and rinse, you’ll wash that away. Set aside.

In a large pot, sweat onions, sweet potato, and celery in olive oil. Add garlic, and pour beans into the pot. Fill pot with four cups of water.

Bring to a boil over high heat. Maintain a boil for about five minutes, before reducing to medium-high heat, and stir in tomato paste. Let cook, uncovered, for thirty to forty minutes, until sweet potatoes are soft and beans are easily cut in half. Add chipotles. (Note: You can buy chipotles in cans in the Latin section of the supermarket, or in smaller Latin markets. They’re cheaper there. Or just get them for free from your friends who go to Mexico.)

Remove pot from heat, and blend until smooth with an additional two to three cups of water, adding extra water for thinner consistency, if desired.

Return to heat, and stir in cumin, coriander, and the juice of the lime. Add salt and pepper, taste, and adjust seasoning as needed.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream, topped with shredded cheddar cheese and chopped cilantro. A side of tortilla chips is a nice touch. And don’t forget the beer.

Tangelo Tart: Not just an amazing stripper name.

Okay, so, I’ve been trying to mostly eat locally and sustainably and good crap like that, at least as far as meat and produce are concerned, but sometimes the city kicks my ass and the clouds are so dark and dense that I’m all, “ALL I WANT IS AN ORANGE IN MY MOUTH!” Already the Olympics are starting to make my neighbourhood really annoying, and no one has seen the sun for days. Wouldn’t you want a tangelo? Me too, and so I tumble off my high horse and tear savagely into as many tangelos as I can get my hands on at once.

And it’s worth it.

In addition to juicing them, and gnashing at their flesh with my menacing fruit fangs, I also turned them into a gooey orange tart, which was shared with Nick and Paul and Grace at Grace’s dinner party last night. I am literally still full after Grace’s succulent roast leg of lamb, buttery lemon potatoes, and creamy spinach and gailan gratin. But since my only contribution to the night was a bottle of Riesling and the tart, I am going to tell you about that. One day perhaps Grace will guest post. I will work on that.

So here you are: Tangelo Tart.

Tangelo tart

Crust

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour

Custard

  • 3 large eggs, plus 3 additional egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp. tangelo zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh tangelo juice
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed and chilled

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, cream together butter, almonds, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, and beat until thoroughly combined.

Add flour, and stir until a crumbly dough forms. Press dough into a 9″ tart pan. Line the crust with a piece of parchment weighted with pie weights or dried beans.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. Remove from heat to a wire rack to cool.

Check your large bowls against your pot tops. Find one that fits nicely.

Into that fitting bowl, whisk eggs, yolks, sugar, zest, and juice. Place bowl over a pot of simmering water, and whisk, almost continuously, until mixture has thickened. At first, the mix will seem frothy, as if there is a layer of foam atop a layer of juice, but don’t worry. Your constant attention will ensure that the bottom layer joins the top layer in yellow creaminess. You’ll know it’s done when the mix is of a uniform thickness and texture, and when it coats the back of a spoon.

Remove the bowl from the heat, and whisk in butter, one cube at a time, until the butter has melted into the mix. Pour into a different bowl, cover with plastic wrap (make sure the wrap covers the surface of the custard or else a skin will form and it will look gross). Refrigerate until cooled.

Pour cooled custard into cooled pie crust. At this point, you will notice that you might have made too much custard, and you may find this annoying. But there’s a reason. Turn oven to broil.

You see? This is where it gets tricky, especially if you are easily distracted.

Place tart in oven under broiler, and allow top to brown slightly.

Operative word: SLIGHTLY. You want it to be a marbley kind of goldenness, not unlike creme brulée. If you get distracted and singe the top of the tart, the extra filling will come in handy as you scrape off the ugly bits and try again. It did for me. If you’re not a broiler failure, save the extra custard and either drizzle it over the whipped cream you’ll serve with the tart, or store it in a ramekin and eat it on your own later. There should be about one cup extra.

Chill tart for four hours before serving. Serve with whipped cream. Sigh heavily over its punchy fruitiness, its ooey-gooeyness, its “I can’t believe it’s not August” splendor.