rice + black bean veggie stew

Welp. It’s that time of year where all I want to do is eat soups (and stews) for every meal. Winter has arrived.

Fortunately, soups are my favorite types of meals to make. The very idea of throwing a bunch of ingredients together in a pot and then walking away from it for an hour is my kind of cooking. Especially, in the colder days, when I just want to get right back under the blanket on the couch and finish another episode of whatever show has my attention at the moment.

rice black bean veggie stew

I started this recipe in the same simple way that I start most soups, with carrots and celery sautéing in oil (in this case, and most cases for my soups, coconut oil) with onions and garlic. There is no more appetizing smell then the beginning of a soup. Like, what god or goddess came up with the idea to make onions and garlic smell so damn good together? I’ll never know. I digress. What made the base of this soup stand apart from others for me were the carrots. Yes, the carrots. My partner picked out these purple carrots from the Tamarack Hollow Farms stand at the Union Square Greenmarket. They were the perfect combination of crispness, sweetness, and that special heartiness that reminds you that you’re eating a vegetable straight from the earth. From stealing bites as I chopped them to the very finished product, the carrots were truly the real MVPs of this meal.

I continued building this soup by adding in a homemade chicken broth, tomatoes, brown rice, and some black beans. It was here that I realized, “Oh shit. This soup might actually turn out to be a stew.” For me, as soon as rice and beans converge in beautiful harmony, it’s a straight up stew-tuation. The balance of carbohydrates, starch, and protein warms my insides and I can rest assured that this soup stew will get me nice and full. I threw some bay leaves into the pot and, you guessed it, walked away from the simmering pot of yum yums.

I re-surfaced in the kitchen about 40 minutes later to prep the greens. While rummaging through the fridge for chard, I remembered all of the fresh herbs that we had on hand. My partner has been really into making salad dressings so we often have a surplus of dill, parsley, cilantro and more scattered around the fridge. I grabbed a handful of dill thinking that it would add a nice balance of brightness to the heartiness of the stew. With that in mind, I continued on the herb kick with some fennel seeds and rosemary. Something about fresh herbs just felt right for this one, so I went with it. I threw in the chard for the last 15 minutes of this stew’s journey and that was that. STEW COMPLETE.

Ok, so, perhaps I was being a bit dramatic when I said the carrots were the MVPs of the stew. I also, have to give mad credit to the homemade chicken broth which my partner made. The broth lent such body and a subtle richness that I don’t think I could have achieved without it. I often base my soups with a 1:1 ratio of water and store-bought stock. I add water because I can never handle the taste and frankly, saltiness, of a low-sodium vegetable broth in a box. Homemade broths will definitely be in heavy rotation this winter, trust. I’ll share her stock secrets (if she lets me) with y’all in another post.

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Making rice + black bean veggie stew

What’s needed:

1 cup short-grain brown rice

1/2 cup black beans (pre-soaked from 4-8 hrs)

chard (save 1/2 of the stems, use the whole bunch of leaves)

celery

carrots (2-3, diced)

tomatoes (3 medium-sized, diced)

garlic (2 cloves, diced)

shallots (1 diced)

ground turmeric

ground cumin

ground coriander

smoked paprika

coarse salt & ground black pepper

fennel seeds

fresh dill

fresh rosemary

bay leaves

coconut oil or butter

homemade chicken stock (or any stock of your choosing)

On medium heat, bring coconut oil (or butter) to a light simmer and crackle on medium heat. Toss the carrots, celery, garlic and shallots into the pot. Stir them around until they are all coated in oil. Once the garlic and shallots start to cook down (within 1-2 minutes), add in your spices. Be creative with how much and what spices you use! Continue stirring to coat all of the base with the spices. After 2-3 minutes (or before the garlic and shallots begin to brown), add in 5-6 cups of chicken stock. Strain and rinse the beans under cool water for 1 minute. Rinse the rice under cool water for 1 minute. Add the beans and rice to the pot and turn the heat up to high.

Once the stock comes to a boil, add in the bay leaves, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Allow the soup to simmer for at least 45 minutes. Depending on how long your beans soaked, it may take up to an hour for the beans to soften.

Finally, add in the chard, fennel seeds, dill, and rosemary. Let simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Scoop out the bay leaves and ladle this delicious stew into a bowl. Eat slowly and enjoy!