'Tis the season of cookie swapping. (Wife swapping has no seasonal bounds, I presume?) And while stocking up on dozens of sweets has its perks, all that sugar can be overwhelming. Here's a healthier, more practical alternative: swap soup.
Each participant makes a big batch of soup and parcels it out into four one-quart containers. Everybody gathers, lines their offerings up on a table, and picks out four new soups in an agreed upon order (by birthdate, etc.).
Arrive with Brazilian black bean, depart with vegetable dumpling, mushroom/barley, and beef chili--and, if too many cocktails have been consumed during the trade, without your jar of roasted garlic Brie, which you will have to retrieve at next week's cookie swap.
Here's that recipe for Brazilian black bean to get you started:[jump]
Brazilian Black Bean Soup From Mollie Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook Serves 5
2 cups black beans 2 tablespoons oil (approximately) 1 cup onions, chopped 3 cloves garlic, crushed 1 large carrot, chopped 1 stalk celery, chopped 1 cup green pepper, chopped (optional) 1 teaspoon ground coriander 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 2 oranges, peeled and sectioned and seeded 1/2 cup orange juice 1 tablespoon dry sherry 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 1/4 teaspoon red pepper 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Preparation Rinse the beans. Cover them with water, and let them soak several hours (at least 4) or overnight.
Pour off excess water from beans. Place beans in saucepan with 3 1/2 cups water or stock and salt. Bring to a boil, cover, simmer 1 1/2 hours over very low heat.
Saute onions and garlic in oil. Then add carrot, celery and green pepper. Add a little water to the vegetables to steam them along. Add the coriander and cumin.
When everything seems just as it should be, add saute to the beans. Let the soup continue to simmer over lowest possible heat.
Add oranges, orange juice, sherry, black pepper, red pepper and lemon juice to soup. Give it a stir, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning. If you wish to thin, add water; if you wish to thicken, puree some or all of the soup in a blender.
Serve topped with sour cream or yogurt.