Normally, when making turkey soup, I don’t like to stray from the familiar – carrots, celery, onions, spices, egg noodles. But my husband suggested black bean and quinoa, two foods we’ve been cooking with relatively recently. I was skeptical, but we just went for it – and am I glad we did!
This soup was an all-day affair because we were making it from stock. We’d made roasted turkey a few weeks before, so I portioned the (large) carcass into two freezer bags. One half went into a traditional turkey soup, and the other half we used for this concoction. In the future, I might make the stock in advance, but cooking down (dried) black beans still requires a 2-3 hours.
To make stock, boil turkey carcass for a 2-3 hours with a few bay leaves (optional: add onion, carrot, celery etc for a bit more flavor). I usually eyeball the amount of water to use, but I’m guessing I used around 8 quarts. Some of this will boil off.
The night before, we started soaking dried black beans (1 bag = 1 lb.) in warm water. Also have a look through for pebbles and other undesirables.
After 2-3 hours, the stock should become fragrant with a good turkey flavor. At this point you can take out the turkey carcass and separate the meat and the bones; or you can wait, like I did, and get more flavor out of the turkey, but it also starts to fall apart, making the bone removal more difficult. I added the turkey meat and the drained-and-rinsed black beans to the stock. I also added 1 (or 1.5) diced onion and 7-8 cloves of garlic (crushed/minced).
I kept this simmering for another 2 hours or so, and though I was a bit worried about the flavor since this was an experiment, I decided not to play with spices and herbs until the beans started falling apart, in case the herbs became bitter. Once the beans started falling apart, I added paprika, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper. It still lacked something to tie it together, so I added a can of tomato paste for that slightly acidic but well-rounded tomato flavor.
Finally, once the beans were thick and soft, I added 1.5-2 cups of quinoa and let this cook for 20 minutes. At this point, I turned off the heat to make sure the quinoa didn’t overcook. I had plenty of liquid, so my goal was to boil it off before adding the quinoa, but if you haven’t cooked with black beans much, keep an eye on the water level and add more if necessary. Keep stirring because black beans go from watery-to-thick very quickly, and it can stick to the pot and be a pain to clean. Also, quinoa cooks like rice, taking about the same amount of time and proportion of liquid.
And the soup? Honestly, delightful.
It was hearty and thick with a meaty flavor. The quinoa added a gorgeous nutty texture, so much more elegant than the mushy comfort of noodles or rice. Black beans and quinoa are both wonderfully healthy. And I topped my bowl off with chopped parsley, green onion, and a dollop of homemade ricotta.