I have embraced the bean.

Yep. There. I said it. I embraced the bean. I like beans now.
Well, I like them again.

Just like cabbage, I used to love beans when I was a little fat toddler hopping around. Then I got all weirded out by the texture and smell and stopped eating them. Somewhere in high school, I think, I decided black beans were okay every now and again because they stayed much more firm than normal beans. And I loved Mexican food. And I ate it a lot. So I had to get used to them. (I still won't do refried least, not by themselves. They're okay in burritos, but I prefer a good chicken chimichanga!) Slowly I started to eat more beans, but only in dishes. Finally, I grew to love green beans. (Yeah, I didn't like those beans either. :)

When I started dating Zach, we faced a problem. He loved them; I tolerated them sometimes. Somewhere along the way I started craving chili every now and then. I would eat a few baked beans, especially the ones his mom makes. This summer I did the unthinkable: I ate beans and cornbread. And I didn't die of disgust.

Don't get me wrong...I'm still not crazy for them. I really do not like how they smell when they are cooking. The odor reminds me of school and hospital cafeterias and those yellow janitorial buckets. Ew. The texture is what really weirds me out, and I'm not a texture person. But beans do. I've learned I can ingest them, and with pleasure, so long as they are with something else that distracts from their texture. Strangely enough I've started to avoid hamburger meat on the other hand because its texture has started to get to me. I like my three-bean vegetarian chili much better than any with ground beef. I can't explain these things rationally. It is like my horror at words that begin with "bel-," excluding "bell" and "belle" and "bella."

Now that I typed out those words, I feel a little squeamish.

Anyway, I have embraced the bean. And this past weekend I made some really delicious BLACK BEAN SOUP. It is my favorite bean after all...not counting the green ones. Or the jelly ones. (But then I get picky. :)

2 slices bacon
2 tsp. olive oil
1 c. diced onion (about 1 medium onion)
1/4 c. diced celery (about 1 rib)
2 (14 1/2-oz.) cans chicken broth
2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, rinsed and drained*
1 (10-oz.) can chicken breast, drained (optional)
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. paprika
sour cream (optional)

-Cook bacon until crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels.
-Add olive oil, onion, and celery to bacon drippings and cook 5-7 minutes until onion is translucent.
-Combine broth, beans, chicken (if desired), bay leaves, salt, cumin, coriander, black pepper, and paprika in a large pot. Add onion and celery. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaves before serving.
-Top with crumbled bacon and sour cream (if desired).

[6 servings]

*Instead of using canned beans, I used about 3 cups of cooked beans (1 cup dried).

NOTE: I didn't use the chicken this time around, but if and when I do, I will probably use fresh over canned. (Canned chicken is kinda freaky. *lol*) I also didn't have any bay leaves on hand. :( I always add more black pepper because we like pepper A LOT. :)

This is very tasty. You may need to add more chicken broth than what is called for if you allow it to cook down. (We did.) It also could be tasty to substitute beer for the broth. (Just a suggestion... ;)

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