Sundays are the best days. I like Saturday, for sure, with its catch ups and outings and, more often than not, evening derring-do (last night a girlfriend and I took in some theatre. The show was called Naked Boys Singing. One does so love to support the arts).
Saturdays, though, carry the weight, or, more accurately, the burden, of expectation. They are, after all, the first day of the weekend, and weekends so often are hampered with great expectations for fitting in all the extra curriculars, pleasant or otherwise, that didn’t happen during the week.
Sundays are free from these expectations because, by Sunday morning, expectations have either been fulfilled or dashed (that genius outfit you spent all week planning either debuted spectacularly, or sits on the bedroom floor, a reject and a flop).
This gives the more highly evolved among us the opportunity to Be In The Moment (whatever that means, I am yet to find out). For those of us less evolved, Sundays present an irresistible invitation to undertake pleasurable little busy-nesses that didn’t quite warrant top Saturday billing, but are, nonetheless, important.
This, for me, usually involves making soup, the beauties of which are manifold.
Firstly, soup makes fantastic lunch food, and if you cook and portion it out on Sunday, you can have lunches ready made in your freezer for the rest of the week.
Secondly, soups are time consuming but low maintenance. You do need to be around (ish) for an hour or so to keep an eye on the stove, but you are free to engage in other busy-nesses that make Sundays so lovely (painting BOTH finger and toenails. Cleaning the shower while listening to Prince. Re reading Truman Capote. Trialing new eyeliner techniques in front of your freshly cleaned bathroom mirror – I finally got the knack of lining the inner rim. Subtle, yet effective. It’s my new favourite trick).
Thirdly, and finally, your neighbours are more likely to be home on Sunday, all the better to tease with the tantalising smells coming from your apartment. No, I’m not mean, but it is sometimes satisfying to know that that delicious garlic-onion-spices smell the whole neighbourhood is salivating over is all for me.
Today, I made South Beach Black Bean soup, adapted from Nigella Lawson’s How To Eat. I made this soup last year for Kitty Gillfeather and I to share one night, and, whilst it was Okay, it was not Omazing.
Never one to be defeated by a recipe, and with complete faith in the kitchen gospel according to Nigella, I attempted it again, this time with a couple of modifications.
I’m pleased to report that my faith in Nigella’s inherent rightness was rewarded, after a couple of hours of simmering, by a dark, deeply spiced, lime-spiky soup. The best kind.
Given its Cuban heritage, I feel it’s only appropriate that you eat a bowl of this with something rum-based to drink: a Cuba Libre, perhaps, or, if you’re a little out-of-left-field, like me, sarsaparilla and Bacardi over ice with a squeeze of lime.
Yet another reason why Sundays are the best day: they’re the only day when lunchtime drinking (infinitely more satisfying than evening drinking) is de rigueur. After all, we’ve got work in the morning…
South Beach Black Bean Soup (Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s How To Eat)
(Makes three large portions)
200g black turtle beans
1 bay leaf
1 red capsicum, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Zest of one lime, plus extra limes to serve (allow one per person for citrus fiends like me)
Sugar, salt, pepper, to season
1 tablespoon dry sherry
Sour cream, sliced avocado, dried chilli flakes and/or spring onions and coriander, to serve.
1) Cover the beans and the bay leaf with a generous amount of water in a medium sized saucepan. Bring to the boil and keep at the boil, topping up with more water as needed, until beans are beginning to tenderise, but, still have quite a bit of bite.
2) Meanwhile, in your largest saucepan, heat the oil and add your finely chopped onion and capsicum. Cook over medium heat until translucent, which should take about ten minutes.
3) Add the garlic, cumin and oregano to the onion and capsicum and cook a further five minutes. The mixture should be starting to colour, which is good. You want this mixture caramelised, almost to the brink of burnt, for depth of flavour.
4) Hopefully, your beans will be crunchy-tender by this stage. If so, add them, and their cooking liquid, to the large pot, and bring to the boil. If your beans are not quite ready, remove the onion-capsicum mixture from the heat. Return to the stove when the beans are just about ready.
5) Cook at a high simmer until the beans are completely tender. Add in the sherry and lime zest, and season to taste. Nigella’s original recipe suggests using a whole tablespoon of salt (admittedly for a larger quantity of soup than my specifications), which sounds like a lot, but bean dishes do tend to need a lot of seasoning to taste of anything at all, so taste test thoroughly and often and salt accordingly.
6) Locate rum, chill glasses.
7) Spoon soup into bowls and serve, sprinkled with any, none, or all of the following: sour cream, sliced avocado, dried chilli flakes, finely sliced spring onions, coriander, and lime wedges to squeeze over the soup on the side.
8) Viva Nigella, Viva Soup Sessions, Viva Sundays.