Vegan Spicy Black Bean Soup

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Today is Easter and today I am not posting about cute bunny desserts or baskets stuffed with chocolate eggs. Instead, I offer you a lighter, yet still hearty, Vegan Spicy Black Bean Soup recipe–the perfect way to recharge after over-indulging.

Being a college student with an ill-equipped kitchen (I’m looking at you, mixing bowl that’s actually a Tupperware container), I took the liberty to make some shortcuts. For instance, the original recipe called for pureeing the soup, which I avoided by using one can of black beans and one can of vegetarian refried beans. To easily boost flavor, I used vegetable broth instead of water. Ultimately taste was not sacrificed and this soup now goes on my roster of favorite soups.

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Vegan Spicy Black Bean Soup

Adapted from Eating Well

Makes approximately 5 cups

1 tbs olive oil

1 white onion, chopped

1 tbs Mexican chili powder

1 tsp ground cumin

1 15oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 15oz. can vegetarian refried beans

3 cups vegetable broth

1/2 cup prepared salsa [I used Newman’s Own, Medium heat]

1/4 tsp salt

1 tbs lime juice

Cilantro, chopped

Heat olive oil in large stockpot over medium heat. Add onions and stir for 2-3 minutes, just until softened. Stir in chili powder and cumin, mix for 1 more minute. Add vegetable broth, beans, salsa and salt. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add lime juice. Serve with chopped cilantro as a garnish.

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Continuation of my Mexican Food Binge

Back in December, I met with the CEO and founder of a site called Tasted Menu. The concept is simple: eat a dish, post a picture, give it a rating. Unlike Yelp and other review sites, this site helps consumers narrow down the best dishes at a restaurant or in a city. You can also search for “best dish” or “best pizza” (Seared Petit Strip Loin at O Ya and Brussel Sprout Pizza at Posto, respectively). Currently, Tasted Menu is for just the Boston area, though plans of expansion are in the near future. A mobile app is also about to be launched. I think this site will provide some very valuable data to restaurants, perhaps even more so than just a general rating of a dining experience. I’m asking you to take a peek at Tasted Menu because, even if you don’t live in Boston, it will certainly whet your appetite. One of my more recent reviews on Tasted Menu is about Tu Y Yo in Somerville, which was an eye-opening and delicious meal.

Part two of my Mexican food binge, which, as stated before, began when I decided to travel to Mexico over my spring break. My boyfriend’s last night in town before heading off to school was honored with a meal at Tu Y Yo. This, once again, is not a “TexMex” place but instead serves dishes based on family recipes that have been passed down through generations. In fact, the menu states which family member created the dish, and the year they were created. A unique menu, I would say.

We started out with the vegetable tamales. These corn husk wrapped appetizers were interesting to open, particularly as each held a different filling. Some had corn, others spinach, and some unidentifiable. They were all good, though it was the sauce and the excitement over opening each tamale that made this dish worthwhile.

My carnivorous friends enjoyed these chicken-taquito like appetizers:

I ordered the Salmón Criolla, which looked unassuming, but was delicious. The fish was a little dry but the sauce was fantastic. The best part? The shrimp and potato cakes. Dense, flavorful, and chicken-nugget-looking, they made the dish special.

The finale of my meal was perhaps the best part. The Avocado Cheesecake sounded different, so I gave it a shot. It might have a graham cracker crust and a very subtle taste of avocado, but I thought this was delicious. Avocado has such a great consistency, so I’m not surprised to find that it makes a good cheesecake filling. I wish I could have an entire avocado cheesecake–I would certainly eat the whole thing.

On my trip to Mexico, I will be on a search for avocado cheesecake and at the very least, true Mexican cuisine.

Taqueria El Amigo, Waltham, MA

I am going to Mexico in March and so it would only be appropriate to go on a Mexican food-eating craze. In 48 hours, I had three Mexican meals, two of which were quite authentic. (One, tortilla chips with melted cheese in the microwave with guacamole during the football game, was not as authentic).

My first meal of my Mexican binge was at Taqueria El Amigo in Waltham, Massachusetts. This hole in the wall joint makes some damn tasty food, though my non-meat eating ways made navigating the menu a bit tricky. There are only two vegetarian options on the menu (and no fish) which include a vegetable burrito:

The non-vegetarian menu items include a lot of meat, and not just “chicken” but also “cheeks” and other body parts. My boyfriend ordered a meat-filled burrito, as well as a taco. He quickly consumed his tasty meal.

Would I go back? Absolutely. A $4.50 burrito, plus one that isn’t Tex-Mex, sounds great to me. The taqueria is not in the best location, and there is little other than a few tables and some Spanish-speaking customers in the restaurant. However, to me these places are the best kind around.

Taqueria El Amigo
196 Willow Street
Waltham, MA 02453