Anyone who knows me well, knows about how much I love fast food. It's a love/hate relationship that I need to get over.
In order to do that at my own pace, I've been trying to recreate my favorite dishes from different restaurants. In the next months, I will be featuring a few 'healthified' fast food recipes. This one didn't need much work to make it healthy. It's low fat, vegan and full of flavor.
Before moving to the US, I had never been to a Panera restaurant. I'd heard of it and read articles about their food, but that was it. A few days ago, my roommate and I went there for dinner. I had the Mediterranean Veggie half sandwich with a bowl of their Black Bean Soup. The sandwich was OK, but the soup was delicious.
Immediately, I did a quick online search to see if recreating the recipe would be possible. That's when I ran into this one. This soup may not be exactly like the one they serve , but it tastes *almost identical. It killed my cravings.
The Arugula Salad with Mandarin Vinaigrette was delicious and refreshing. A great side dish to this soup. It contrasts with the spice of the soup.
The only thing missing from Panera's original version is a big slice of avocado on the side. I think avocado makes everything better. I'm Puertorican, after all.
A few tips on the recipe:
*Do not skip or substitute the Red Bell Pepper. I think that's what really makes a difference in the soup.
*Cook and brown the veggies before adding the stock and beans. It creates a deeper flavor.
*Adjust the spice amounts to your liking.
* The soup is supposed to be very thick. You may want to adjust the amount of stock according to your preference.
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(serves 2 or 3)
For the Soup
two, 15 ounce cans of Black Beans
1 3/4 cups of Vegetable Stock
2 Celery stalks
1/3 cup of Red Bell Pepper, chopped
2 Garlic Cloves
1 small Yellow Onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
1/4 tsp Cumin
1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper
-Finely chop all the veggies, sautée over medium heat in the oil, until browned and almost fully cooked.
-Add the stock and half the amount of beans. Cook on high heat for 3-5 minutes until the veggies have softened a bit more.
-Puree in a food processor. Return it to the pot. Add the remaining beans. Cook for another 5 minutes.
For the Arugula Salad
two handfuls or Arugula
2 tbsp Olive Oil
3 tbsp of Mandarin juice (squeeze one mandarin)
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
Salt and Pepper
-Whisk together the ingredients for the vinaigrette, until well combined. Pour over the Arugula leaves. Serve immediately.