The children’s book Mud Soup by Judith Head inspired my recipe for black bean soup. It’s the story of a little boy named Josh who befriends a little girl named Rosa. When she offers him some of her grandmother’s Mud Soup, his imagination runs wild with crazy thoughts of what might be in there. When he finally tries the soup at the end of the story, he finds out it’s actually really tasty!
My kids love this story; it’s an updated, multicultural version of Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham. It’s take home message is to try a food before deciding whether you like it or not. This is a common theme in real life at our house, since I’m constantly serving things that most little ones would turn up their noses at. Our ironclad rule of food is you’ve got to take at least one “no thank you bite” before you opt out of a food that’s been served.
My Mud Soup recipe is a little different from the one offered in the book. I like to include more vegetables. I also added some bacon, because well, bacon. It goes so naturally with beans. I also made it a slow cooker recipe, because what could be easier? And you can’t beat how easy on the pocketbook dried beans are. This is a definite winner for the budget.
- 1½ c dried black beans (optional: soaked 1-2 hours)
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 T avocado oil
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 slices bacon (vegetarians omit)
- 4 c water
- 1 c chicken or vegetable broth
- ¼ t salt
- 1 t balsamic vinegar
- Saute onion, celery, carrot and garlic in oil in crock pot.
- Cut bacon into ½ inch pieces and add to pot.
- Add remaining ingredients except vinegar to crock pot. Cook 4 hours on medium low.
- Add the vinegar near the end of cooking time.
- Remove bay leaf and thyme stems. Puree soup with an immersion blender or in small batches in a blender.
- Optional: garnish with a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley, cashew sour cream or a dash of cayenne.
Have you ever found that you can serve a dish one night that your kids go crazy for, and the next time you serve it they are completely uninterested? Happens to me all the time. It can be maddening. Today when I asked my son to be my official Soup Taste Tester, he took one slurp of soup off the spoon and remarked nonplussed, “Not my favorite.”
Then I asked him if he could help me puree the soup with our immersion blender, one of his favorite jobs in the kitchen. He eagerly rolled up his sleeves and got in there. Before long he was taking another taste test, declaring enthusiastically, “Wow, this really is a tasty soup!” We hadn’t added a single thing to the pot since the last time he tried it; but somehow his hard work got him invested in the outcome. I’ve seen this happen over and over again with both my kids. It’s a good trick to keep in your back pocket.