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Black Bean Soup

March 23, 2011
By Wendy Monro, Simply Food Writer

I am spending the most amazing weekend in Cambria, Calif.

Cambria is located midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco on the coast of California on Highway 1. We drove seven hours to get here and it was worth the trip. Once we reached Paso Robles, we knew we made the right choice.

The road, which connects Paso Robles to the ocean, has the most amazing hills.

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The finished black bean soup is pictured here.

This time of the year, the grass looks like a green velvet blanket.

Jack said he wishes he could slide down on a piece of cardboard. Just around every bend of the curvy road lies a different winery. It was difficult not to stop at a winery on our way in to Cambria; but we were meeting my parents and had to keep moving.

Suddenly, around a bend in the road, sprawled out in front of us was the most amazing view of the ocean just beyond the velvety hills. We had to stop and take some pictures. It was absolutely breathtaking.

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Black Bean Soup Recipe

Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 6 with leftovers

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 onions, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

64 oz. chicken stock

2 cups kale, chopped

32 ozs black beans, dried, soaked and pre-cooked; or, canned

1 8 oz can of tomato sauce

salt and pepper to taste

cup shredded cheddar cheese on each serving

1 dollup of sour cream on each serving

cup cilantro

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onions and saut for ten minutes. Add the garlic and saut for five minutes more. Add the stock. Bring the stock to a boil. Add the kale. Turn the heat down and let the kale simmer for ten minutes. Add the tomato sauce and the beans and let these heat up for five minutes more. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour soup into each bowl. Add the shredded cheddar cheese, a dollup of sour cream and a sprig of cilantro. Serve.

The next day, we headed back into those hills to sample some wine. "What kind of parents take their kids on a trip to wine country?" Jack asked us.

"These kinds of parents do, Jack." Claud and I responded in unison.

We only visited two vineyards because we thought it wasn't fair to keep them waiting while we bellied up to the bar too often.

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The second winery was a castle and they really enjoyed running all around it.

We finished the day with an evening trip to Hearst Castle.

Unfortunately, the weather took a turn for the worst.

It was raining and the wind howled like you wouldn't believe.

Also, it was freezing cold. It was still amazing to tour that home.

One can only imagine what it must have been like to be a guest of William Randolph Hearst there in the 1930s.

I fell in love with the kitchen. Even by today's standards, that kitchen is incredible. They also raised their own beef and had orchards of fruit and an amazing vegetable garden. I would have been in heaven there. I would have liked to hang out with the cooks.

In Cambria, we have been eating at the most incredible restaurants. I am still on vacation and I think I have gained at least 10 pounds with all of the food and wine we are consuming.

The kids have gotten into the habit of ordering dessert with every meal. As a matter of fact, this morning at breakfast, Jack asked if he could have an clair after his French toast. I didn't let him. Is that mean? I just thought it was too decadent.

I thought he might get a tummy ache after all of that and we had a long drive ahead of us. We drove to Monterey, Calif..

As we pulled into the bay, the sun came out from behind the clouds. We haven't seen the sun in several days. The kids had their Sunday crepes at the Warf. We watched seals play in the bay. We sampled many different varieties of clam chowder.

Like I said, I have been eating.a lot on this trip.

I have been ordering salads as starters, appetizers in between the entrees, and several glasses of wine to wash everything down.

One thing that has stood out the most is all of the soup we have been tasting.

We had wild mushroom soup, lobster bisque, and I already mentioned the clam chowder. The clam chowder in this part of the country is the creamiest I have ever tasted.

Just before we left, I made a black bean and kale soup. I used dried black beans, which I soaked overnight. You could quite easily substitute canned black beans for an easier version. I decided to add the kale at the last minute because I happened to have some in the fridge. I was happy I did, because it tasted delicious in the soup and added a layer of flavor and color.

This soup is so easy to make. It has only a few ingredients. It is extremely healthy and low fat unless you are like me and add cheese and sour cream. I am so bad.

Also, you can cut these ingredients down to make less. I like to make a lot and eat it throughout the week.



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