I was going to say “the slow-cooker has become my best friend” since Freya made her entry into the world, but who am I kidding, I’ve been spoiled with so many friends and family bringing meals for us, that I’ve hardly cooked!(thank-you, thank-you, thank-you) I can say though, that the slow-cooker will BECOME my best friend. It is a great way to have something hot on the table when hungry Max arrives home, and, the joy of using the slow-cooker is that you can make dinner in those oh so glorious quiet moments between feeds and diaper changes.

Dried Blackbeans

Here is our slow-cooker Spicy Black Bean Soup Recipe. It is healthy, easy and delicious! Last night we served ours with quesadillas using our homemade tortilla recipe

Ingredients
2 cups dried blackbeans soaked overnight, or prepared using the quick-soak method. This should make 5-6 cups of “cooked beans”. You can use canned beans if you prefer (approximately 4, 15 oz cans).
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium onions chopped
4 garlic cloves minced
1/4 jalapeno pepper minced (use more if you would like more heat)
1 tsp chipotle chilli powder (again increase this if you would like more heat. If you don’t have chipotle chilli powder you can use regular chilli powder, however, the chipotle powder lends a delicious smokey taste to the soup).
4 tsp ground cumin
2 cups water
2 cups chicken broth
1 796ml/28 oz can chopped tomatos with liquid.
1 tsp lime zest (save juice for serving)
Salt to taste (approx 1 tsp if using low sodium broth)

Toppings – Optional but Recommended

Diced Avocado
Crumbled Feta or Shredded Cheddar cheese
Sour Cream or plain yoghurt
Chopped Cilantro
Chopped Jalapeno (if you really like spice)
Splash of lime juice.

Directions

1. Prepare beans. Beans can be prepared using the quick-soak or overnight method. For the overnight method cover the beans with water and place overnight (or for 8 hours at least) in the refrigerator. For the quick soak method, put 2 cups of beans in a saucepan and cover with water, leaving the lid off. Bring the beans to a boil and boil for two minutes, then take the pan off the heat. Cover, and allow the beans to stand for at least one hour (preferably 2). The beans may still be a bit hard, but in my experience after enough time in the slow-cooker they should be fine. Before using the beans, drain the soaking liquid and rinse and drain the beans. Alternatively, canned beans (drained and rinsed) (5-6 cups) can be used.

2. Once prepared, place beans in slow-cooker.

3. In medium, microwavable bowl, stir together vegetable oil, onions, garlic, jalapeno, cumin and chilli powder. Place in the microwave on high for 5 minutes stirring occasionally until onions are soft. Add to slow cooker. (This has a similar effect of blooming the spices and sauteing the onions/garlic however, is much quicker and takes less attention than the stove-top method).

4. Add remaining ingredients except salt (water, chicken broth, tomatos, lime zest) to slow cooker. (Using salt with the beans when cooking while prevent them from becoming tender).

5. Place slow-cooker on low for 9-11 hours, or high for 5-7.

6. When the cooking is complete, transfer in batches to a bowl/blender and puree the soup to a desired consistency. A potato masher or whisk also works in the case of your almost 2 year old busting your immersable blender.

7. Stir in salt to taste.

8. Top with favourite toppings, and enjoy.

(I am sorry I don’t have a photo of the final product, but dinner last night became rather chaotic between Max deciding the food processor/kitchen aid is his new favourite toy and Freya wanting to be fed).

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