Black bean soup with grilled mushrooms and peppers

Black bean soup with grilled mushrooms and red peppers

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.

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Black bean, black barley soup & toasted barley walnut bread

Black bean black barley soup

Yesterday was rainy and cold. I felt tired (Isaac had kept us up for hours after our crazy neighbors talking to the police had kept us up for hours.) I felt discouraged. I should have taken a nap. What did I do instead? I baked bread! And then … I made soup! Just before we ate the bread and the soup I realized they both contained barley. OMG! Is that like wearing your plaid shirt with your plaid pants? It is, isn’t it? But then, maybe you’re thinking about it, and you realize that though they’re different plaids, they do have a few colors in common. They do look sort of nice together. You could just pretend you’d planned it that way all along. It’s an outfit!

I bought black barley at the whole foods last week, and I’ve been so excited about cooking with it! David suggested black barley & black bean soup, and the second he said it, I could just taste it! It would be dark and savory and smoky. Meaty almost. It would be simple – just the beans and the barley, but it would have a lot of flavor. Rosemary, sage, smoked paprika, a little tamari… a nice dark rich broth.

I’m not sure how the barley-bread bee got into my bonnet. I wanted to make a dark, dense crunchy bread. With nuts and whole grains and a crispy crust. I think it turned out that way! It’s got toasted walnuts and toasted oats, both roughly ground. It’s got whole wheat flour and black pepper. And it’s got toasted barley flour, which has a lovely, distinctive, sweetly nutty flavor. I made a long, thin loaf, for maximum crust, and I bent it into a “C” shape, because I wanted to bake my initials. Nah, really, I wanted to fit it onto my baking sheet. It was very very nice with the soup, and good sliced thinly and toasted with cinnamon sugar as well.

Here’s Aaron Copland’s Barley Wagons. It’s lovely!
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Black bean & tomato soup

This is basically a two-can soup (can of beans/can of tomatoes), but it’s got a deep rich flavor, and a lovely, deeply richly colored broth (black bean soups can be so drab-looking sometimes, but this has a warm mahogany hue). Simply made, but complexly flavored.

Here’s JJ Allstar’s Soup. I found a surprising number of songs about soup. Can you think of any that you like?

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