Arugula Mung Bean Soup

This week has felt a bit like a cooking show challenge… how many different meals can I come up with using mung beans, arugula, and black rice? It always takes me a bit to adjust from cooking for four to just cooking for myself, and so I totally overshot the pot of beans I cooked on Sunday, and thawed a gallon bag of rice on impulse. I’ve also been busy clearing out beds for spring planting and cutting back all the overgrown and bolted arugula in hopes of another harvest… and am now scrambling to make good use of the abundance.

So far, I’ve mostly fallen back on old standbys and new favorites, like arugula pesto, a few variations on curried mung daal, the amazing Ethiopian alicha, tahini mung beans, and a surprisingly exquisite improvised pot of mung beans simmered with onion, star anise, and cilantro. Today, however, I was feeling a bit stumped, so I decided to hunt around and try something new. A recipe for an “Ayurvedic Spinach Mung Soup” from One Green Planet immediately leapt out at me. I couldn’t help playing with it a bit, of course, starting with swapping the spinach out for arugula. I also forgot the tahini, and ended up not bothering to blend the soup, add lemon juice, or garnish with fresh herbs… it still made for a delightful lunch, with a few tortillas on the side. I ate three bowlfuls, which nearly cleared out the pot, but I do have a small amount left to enjoy tomorrow, perhaps with a slice or two of quiche or a plate of mung bean nachos. Definitely expect to make this again before too long. If cooking for more than one or two people, I’d definitely recommend doubling the recipe or cooking a more substantial dish to accompany it.

Arugula Mung Bean Soup
A few tablespoons oil
Chopped onion or leek (I used finely sliced leek leaves I had around)
3 stalks celery, sliced
A teaspoon or two fresh grated ginger
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 fistfuls arugula
2 tablespoons tahini, or another nut or seed butter (optional)
2 cups cooked mung beans
3-4 cups water or stock
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1-2 teaspoons chili powder and/or cayenne
Salt and pepper, to taste
Juice from half a lemon or lime (optional)
A few tablespoons fresh parsley or cilantro (optional)

Saute onion or leeks and celery in oil for a few minutes until soft, then add garlic and ginger and cook another minute or two, until soft and fragrant. Stir in arugula and let wilt. Add the beans, spices, tahini, and liquid, and let simmer at least 10 minutes — longer is be better to help meld the flavor, especially if not using stock. If desired, blend to form a creamy soup, add more liquid if necessary to achieve the desired texture, then stir in lemon or lime juice, adjust seasoning to taste, and garnish with chopped parsley or cilantro.

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