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Charity bowl and bean soup a good match

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Reserve Friday night to purchase one of the soups in the lineup for Empty Bowl 2011 — and get a handmade bowl, to boot — while supporting Hawaii Meals on Wheels and the River of Life Mission. Then, on another day, try out this hearty black bean soup.

The recipe was created by the crew at America’s Test Kitchen for ease, flavor and healthfulness. While this recipe uses bacon and chicken broth, a vegetarian version would eliminate the pork and substitute vegetable broth. Those watching their salt can use low-sodium black beans. Garnish with low-fat sour cream, cilantro and lime wedges.

Black Bean Soup

"Light & Healthy 2011," by the editors of America’s Test Kitchen

2 slices bacon, chopped fine
3 celery ribs, chopped fine
2 onions, minced (about 2 cups)
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
6 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Cook bacon in large Dutch oven over medium-low heat, stirring often, until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add celery, onions, carrot and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, 8 to 10 minutes.

Uncover, stir in garlic, cumin and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in beans and broth, bring to simmer, and cook until beans are very tender and broth is flavorful, about 30 minutes.

Process 1-1/2 cups of the beans and 2 cups of broth in blender until completely smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Return to pot. Stir in lime juice, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve. Serves 6.

Approximate nutritional information, per 1-1/2 cup serving: 240 calories, 6 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 1,220 mg sodium, 38 g carbohydrates, 13 g fiber, 13 g protein

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