Monday, January 28, 2013

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup with Grilled Polenta Cakes

I wish I could convey to you how delicious this meal actually was. The smell alone was almost torturous.  I should have made arrangements to leave the house for the day.  Even the dogs were on edge, pacing the kitchen floor for hours.

I wanted to make a black bean soup in the crock pot, so here is combination of about 10 different recipes.  I took a few ingredients here and there to satisfy our needs.  This is the first time I have ever used liquid smoke, on anything.  I loved the subtle difference it made.  

And besides being undeniably delicious, it was exceptionally healthy as well. 

I wanted something special to serve on the side.  I took a stab at polenta cakes and they will now be a regular accompaniment with our favorite soups and stews.  I also can't help but think they would taste amazing smothered in any sort of savory sauce.  And they can be prepared up to a day in advance and then grilled right before serving.  It was also my first time working with polenta.  So quick and easy, I can't wait to try it in another recipe.

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup with Grilled Polenta Cakes

1 lb black beans, soaked overnight
3 cups vegetable broth
3 cups water
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrot
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 green pepper, seeded and diced
1 large white onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup bulgur
1 tsp liquid smoke
(Your favorite toppings: sour cream, cheese, avocados...)

Drain and rinse soaked black beans.  Add to crock pot along with fresh water and vegetable broth.  Cook for 3 1/2 hours on high.

Turn crock pot to low and add celery, carrots, peppers, onion, garlic, cumin , smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.  Cook for 3 hours.

Add bulgur and cook on low for an additional 30 minutes.  Using an immersion blender, blender or food processor, puree half of the soup.  Stir in liquid smoke and cook for an additional 10 minutes before serving.

Grilled Polenta Cakes
Adapted from Vegan Cooking for Carnivores

Nonstick cooking spray
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups polenta
1/2 cup jarred roasted red pepper, finely diced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp minced fresh chives
2 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing

Lightly spray a 8x8 casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. 

In a medium saucepan, bring water to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and whisk in polenta.  Mixture will begin to thicken immediately, keep whisking for about 3 minutes.  Add roasted red pepper, olive oil, chives, salt and pepper to taste.  Continue to cook until it become very thick, about 3-5 minutes.

Pour into prepared dish and smooth over with the top of a spoon.  Allow the cake to rest for at least 30 minutes.  It can be made a day ahead and refrigerated.

Cut the polenta cake into squares and brush both sides with olive oil.  

Preheat grill or grill pan until very hot.  Add polenta squares and grill for roughly 3 minutes per side.  

Serve immediately.

It makes a lot of soup.  So if you are a small family, expect some leftovers.  I froze a portion of it to pull out again in the next few weeks.

*Featured in 

Healthy Vegan Fridays at The Veggie Nook and Carrie On Vegan


  1. AWESOME!!!!! I will have to try Polenta with Baked Beans next time!

  2. This looks absolutely gorgeous. I've only recently started getting back to making polenta but have only made a plain one so far. I'll have to try this! Thank you so much for sharing this week Healthy Vegan Fridays:
    Have a great weekend and I hope to see you back again on Friday, Katherine :)

  3. I just made this and we are literally in complete AWE of it!!!! How meaty, how healthy, how deliciously filling... all without adding any animal product or byproduct. Thank you for this recipe that will stay with my family for years and years to come as our staple chile! (P.S. Never cooked with liquid smoke before, i am SOLD!)

    1. I am so glad you loved it! Thank you for commenting :-)


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