Honeymoon Black Bean Soup

There is nothing I love more on a chilly, winter evening than a warm bowl of soup. Would anyone care to argue? Okay okay, some may say cracklings logs in the fireplace, a glass of toasty red wine, or a loyal pup at your feet might beat out the soup thing. But to me, it definitely makes the list of winter comforts.

Last year, my husband and I went to the gorgeous West Indies island of Antigua for our eleven day honeymoon.


Shirley Heights Lookout, Antigua

We loved everything about our trip and resort, and I did my due diligence of taking mental notes about the delicious cuisine we ate. Surprisingly, despite the 90 degree weather and about a million percent humidity, I found myself ordering soup most nights for my appetizer. One notable in particular was their Black Bean. I have always been a fan of this soup, already, but I never tried my hand at making it before! What was funny, err interesting, rather, was all their soups were served pureed. And while I have a knack for soup making (remind me to get my Greens & Beans recipe up here), I have never made an entirely smooth soup before. But here I was, tasting this rich, mirror-like, creamy concoction, with a multitude of flavors bombarding me in this little bowl of pure (pureed!) goodness! Needless to say, that soup moved to the top of my list of dishes I needed to recreate at home.

As most of you may well know, one of my goals of this blog is to make accessible dishes with simple and practical ingredients. Sometimes, you might not even have to go to the store! Honestly, everything in this soup I keep on hand regularly, my life is made immensely easier. And? It’s inexpensive to make, filling, vegetarian, high yield of servings, and freezes well. You are welcome.

Black Bean Soup

3 cans black beans (drained and rinsed)

3-4 cups chicken stock

1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes (I use Hunt’s Garlic variety)

1 small onion, diced

3/4 cup carrots, diced (it was exactly 10 baby carrots)

1 jalapeno (I don’t fully de-seed mine)

1 T minced garlic

1/2 T chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp cayenne

1/2 T lime juice

*up to 1 cup almond milk to finish

1/4 avocado, diced (for garnish)

1 T greek yogurt (for garnish)

Bring all ingredients, except the almond milk, to a boil in a large pot (mine is 6 quarts I think?), then cover and reduce to a simmer. The objective is to soften everything, the carrots always taking the longest. I periodically stirred and checked the tenderness of the carrots, and after about a half hour they were to my liking. Longer wouldn’t hurt either, you may need to add more stock/liquid.


Then I removed from heat, and grabbed one of my favorite kitchen tools, my immersion blender. If you don’t have one, do yourself a favor and get one. While I use my food processor almost daily, when it comes to pureeing soups, I promise you that transferring in batches to a blender or food processor to puree would be, at the very least, a tragic hassle. No batches, no different pot, just plop the immersion blender right in there and power up! This is where I slowly added in my almond milk, for a touch of creaminess (you could also use heavy cream instead). This recipe has no added salt because to me it just doesn’t need it, the warmth from the spices speak volumes alone. I garnish with some fresh avocado and a dollop of greek yogurt, which cools it and I love a swirl in each bite. Hubby likes to add shredded cheddar on top as well, and by all means, cheese it up – has it ever ruined anything? Ever?

All I can say is, it’s another Shaymeless recipe that is husband approved! Oh, and I would like to go back to Antigua for another bowl, because that’s how good it is. But my kitchen version will have to suffice for now!

*It is spicy and warming, so if you have a sensitivity to spicy food I would recommend omitting the jalapeno and the cayenne. Instead sub in a bell pepper and some onion powder. It really can be adapted in many ways, but this is a simple guideline for you to figure out your own Honeymoon Soup!


Honeymoon Black Bean Soup

Resolutions and Salsa

New Year’s resolutions. We all make them. Go to the gym. Run more. Drink less. Get back to meal planning. Spend less. The classics, really, and these have all made my list. While I do appreciate getting back to structure and being more disciplined, I also would like to improve and focus my attention on an area that is a bit more light.

I’m going to adapt a practice we use at work, which is called the ‘fun to-do list’. Let me explain. My business partner and I work together, side by side, for just about 40 hours, 4-5 days a week. During our workdays, we verbally put things on our to-do lists for when we get home, and say ‘remind me to                 ‘ to the other: ‘remind me to call the DMV’, ‘remind me to email so-and-so back’, ‘remind me to take out the chicken for dinner’, anything really, from the little to important things. It honestly is very helpful. But all of those things are necessary and chore-like, not exactly fun. So we also have a ‘fun to-do list’. Recently I had: change my ringtone, send out three important Christmas cards, and look into Airbnb options for a later trip. Nothing super pressing, but are much lighter than the forced adult-like daily to-do’s. So, why not have a fun resolutions list, too?

It would be an easy scapegoat to blame the holiday season for my absence, but that would be a bit unfair. I fully admit that I have not put forth enough effort into this food blog. But, the number one spot on my fun New Year’s resolutions list: designate a specific time to work on cooking, photographing, and sharing with you all the goodies I’m feasting on! Sincerely something I can look forward to working on, and it definitely helps that Santa brought me a really fancy camera to help capture my mouth-watering noshes.

With that being said, and if I still have your attention, I bring you a new blog post! On the first day of the new year!

My in-laws recently stayed with us over the holiday for 6 days (it was wonderful, I love my mother-in-law). During that time, we threw our annual Christmas party for our families and friends, expecting upwards of forty people. Luckily, I had an extra set of hands to put to work prepping and plating this year (yay!). I am kind of a control freak about my food-stuff, so delegating is not my strongest trait (especially when my husband is terrible at following simple directions: tear the bread, as I specifically wrote out, to which he replies ‘I thought cutting it would be easier!’ But did I ask you to cut it…I digress.) Despite my hesitancy, I had to find tasks for my rebel, rule following breaking husband, and my very obliging MIL.

One dish I gave my MIL to make is my mango salsa. It’s usually on my summer party menu, but when I saw mangoes were 4 for $5, I couldn’t pass up the ripened beauties! It is slightly labor intensive, mostly because mangoes are a pain in the behind to dice (sorry mom!), but it is such a simple dish, requiring only 4 ingredients. This is also impossible to mess up – add more strawberries if you would like, dice something smaller, or larger. Have at it!

Mango Strawberry Salsa

5 ripened mangoes

8-10 oz fresh strawberries

1 large jalapeno

1/2 of a large red onion

Dash of salt

Yield: approximately 6 cups (ish)

(An addendum to my resolution about blogging more is that I also need to start measuring things. When I cook it is all done by taste and visuals..put that on my regular resolutions list, actually. That’s not fun.)

Peel and cube the mangoes into 1/2″ pieces. Dice the strawberries, and add to the mangoes. Finely dice the red onion and the jalapeno, removing most of the seeds (but it really gives a great heat when you leave some), and add to the fruit. That’s it! Stir it up, add a dash of salt, and let the flavors marinade for a bit. It’s better the next day, and the day after that. The mangoes get softer and mushier (who actually wants something to be mushy?!) and it’s amazing. A few days later we topped our cajun pork chops with the salsa. It was epic.

One of my well-fed partygoers, pointing to the mango salsa, ‘This was the biggest surprise! Wow, incredible!’. So there, I will leave you with that. Cheers!


Looks like summertime