Black bean soup with grilled mushrooms and red peppers
I have a shocking admission to make…I’ve never read On the Road! Terrible, I know! But now I’ve seen a movie version, so I feel that I can speak about the book with complete authority. It is, of course, the story of young men traveling about (on a road) seeking hipness, wildness, and adventures to write about. In the film, at least, I didn’t really love these guys. They seemed self-absorbed, self-congratulatory, self-aggrandizing, and humorless. The poor dears were trying so hard to be crazy-cool that they wound up slogging through a heavy luke-warm slurry of their own invention. But I haven’t read the book. In keeping with my Andre Bazinian belief that it’s best for a critic to write about films that they like, I’ll stop talking about On the Road, and tell you instead about something wonderful we discovered because of On the Road. In one scene in the movie (and apparently in the book as well) the boys happen upon a performance of musician Slim Gaillard. Well! David looked him up, and he’s remarkable. He was genuinely hip, wild, and funny
, and he not only had more than his share of adventures to write about, he invented his own language with which to write about them! The details of his biography are a bit fuzzy, but he was born in Florida or Cuba, on or around 1916. His father was Greek and his mother was Cuban. He grew up in Cuba cutting sugar cane and picking bananas, maybe. His father, who was a ship’s steward, took him on a tour of the world, but accidentally left him in Crete when he was twelve years old. He eventually moved to Detroit and worked in an abattoir, or at Ford, or as a mortician, or all three. He spoke 8 languages, as well as Vout, his own language, for which he wrote a dictionary.
I’m just getting to know his music, but his songs are crazy-wonderful. Lively, contagious, thoughtful, and with a poetry all their own. Yep Roc Heresy
, which sounds like nonsense lyrics, is actually a recitation of the names of middle-eastern food, and he does this with food from other nationalities as well. Others, which sound like nonsense syllables are in Vout. And listen to this, Travelin’ Blues
, a perfect story with a hot dreamy background. I think Tom Waits heard this! What a discovery! How did I not know about this artist until I was 44 years old? Sigh, if only I’d read On the Road when I was a youngster, like I was supposed to…
We grilled up a lot of mushrooms and red peppers the other night. And it’s been so nice and cool lately, that my thoughts turned to soup. I combined the grilled vegetables with black beans, herbs and a little smoked paprika, and made a smooth, tasty soup. Very easy, very quick. If you don’t have leftover grilled vegetables, you could easily roast the mushrooms and peppers in the oven. I marinated the mushrooms in a little balsamic and herbs, but all of those things are in the soup as well. One of the drawbacks to black bean soup, to me, has always been that it’s a little dull in color. I added a small amount of olive oil steeped with annato seeds, and it brightened the whole thing up.
Here’s a link to some of Slim Gaillard’s music.
2 T olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small hot pepper, de-veined, de seeded and minced or 1 t red pepper flakes
10 oz (+/-) mushrooms, grilled or roasted
2 small red peppers, grilled or roasted
1 t rosemary
3 or 4 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1/3 cup white wine
1 t smoked paprika
1 can black beans, rinsed or drained
1 t brown sugar
1 T butter
1 t balsamic
1 or 2 T olive oil steeped with annato seeds
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper
Warm the olie oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the shallot, after a minute or so add the garlic. After less than a minute, when the garlic starts to brown, add the vegetables and herbs. Stir and cook for a few minutes, then add the wine.
When the wine is reduced and syrupy, add the smoked paprika, the beans and the brown sugar. Add enough water to just cover the beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer. Add the butter, balsamic, and annato-oil.
Puree the soup in parts until just as smooth as you like it. Season well with salt and pepper, and eat.