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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Chicken with Rice and Beans from a Restaurant Turns into Homemade Soup

Figuring out what your kids want to eat can be a challenge. Our son, Michael, has gone through a lot of food-phases. When he was little, he became a vegetarian after he saw Babe. A few years later at his grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary dinner, he announced that he was going to eat a hamburger to celebrate their marriage. Now he's the starting quarterback on the high school football team, so he's on a training regimen. He stays away from fats and prefers to eat whole grains. We don't always know what to cook for him, and fast-food is a big no-no. Luckily a staple for him is the roast chicken from an LA landmark, the Cuban restaurant Versailles. The chicken comes with fried plantains, rice, and black beans. Michael likes it all, except for the beans. Which is ok with me, because I use them to make a black bean and vegetable soup.

I love getting another meal out of left-overs. From Michael's take-out, I use the roast chicken bones to make stock. He doesn't eat all the rice, so I have some for the soup. As is traditional with many Cuban dishes, a mound of raw, sliced onions comes on top of the chicken. Needless to say, he doesn't eat any of the onions, so they're all for me.

The result is a delicious soup, with latin-flavors and a healthy, clean taste. I like to add bacon or sausage, but if you're a vegetarian, like my friends Marjorie and Grace, don't add the bacon and use water instead of the chicken stock. If you're making the soup with ingredients from the market, you can use the black beans made by any of the Latin brands like Goya. (Just a side note, the best black beans I've ever eaten were ones I had in Costa Rica where my parents lived for 20 years. Unbelievably delicious.)

Black Bean and Vegetable Soup

½ cup chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
1 ½ cups black beans, cooked
1 piece of bacon, finely chopped
¼ cup finely chopped carrots
¼ cup finely chopped broccoli stems, peeled
½ cup finely chopped Italian parsley
½ cup cooked long grain rice
2 cups homemade chicken stock
1 teaspoon olive oil
Sour cream (optional)
Homemade croutons (optional)

In a saucepan, sauté the onions, bacon, garlic, carrots, and broccoli in olive oil until lightly browned. Add the beans, rice, and chicken stock and simmer for 10 minutes.

Serve in a bowl and top with croutons or sour cream.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes. Cooking Time: 20 minutes.

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