Now that the weather has started cooling off, soups are going to become a staple at our house. Soups are a great way to get in a lot of veggies without really trying. Plus they can be very hearty and satisfying—especially this next recipe: Black bean soup! Even my hubby, who is not so much of a soup person, loves this soup. I especially love how easy it is to make up a big batch and serve it for leftovers. I will also freeze a batch in pint sized mason jars to make for extra quick meals or snacks.
Black Bean Soup
1 tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
4 carrots, diced
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
6 cups chicken broth
4 cans (15oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
Directions: Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add onion, garlic, bell pepper, and carrots. Stir occasionally until softened, about 10 minutes. Add chili powder and cumin, and sauté for an additional 3 minutes. Stir in broth and beans and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove about half of soup and puree in a blender. Return pureed soup back to saucepan and cook 2-3 minutes longer. Top with cilantro and plain Greek yogurt.
Black beans are the base of this soup and provide a wide range of health benefits. They are rich in complex carbs as well as protein, which help stabilize blood sugars and keep you satisfied longer. This is especially important if you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. The high protein content of beans also makes them a great option for vegetarians and vegans as ½ cup of beans provides the same amount of protein as an ounce of meat. They are also surprisingly rich in antioxidants and a great source of fiber, iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, folate and potassium. Beans are also inexpensive and take no prep time if you buy them canned.
Carrots are known for their high beta-carotene content which gives carrots their bright orange color. Did you know that by cooking your carrots you increase the amount of beta-carotene in the carrots by FIVE times?! It’s one of those foods that actually gets more nutritious as it’s cooked. Also, it’s better to choose whole mature carrots versus baby carrots. Baby carrots are actually just the cores of mature carrots that have had the outer layers stripped away. And like more foods, the outer layer is much more nutritious than the core.
Onions are an often-overlooked vegetable with many health properties. They are full of vitamin C, flavonoids and other phytochemicals that are anticancer, anti-inflammatory and supportive of heart health. Their anti-inflammatory properties are even more important during pregnancy as inflammation is linked to many health problems during pregnancy including preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. Onions can be stored for a couple of weeks on the refrigerator shelf but the crisper drawer is too humid. To store onions longer you can put them in an open papered or net bag and put them in a dark, cool place.
Bell peppers are great sources of vitamin C and potassium. Red and orange peppers are especially nutritious as they high in carotenoids, which are important for cardiovascular health, can protect against certain cancers, as well as eye health. The fresher they are the sweeter they are so it’s best to only store them in the refrigerator for a few days.