Beans, beans, good for your heart. The more you eat, the more you... want to lick the bowl clean! Whether you start with dried beans or canned, you can build a healthy, hearty, economical soup around any variety of beans. Add little bits of vegetables, leftover meats, a rich broth or even plain water, and you have the makings of a satisfying soup pot. Cook bean soups until the beans fall apart on their own, or coax them into submission with an immersion blender. Or leave them whole, like they are in this sopa de frijoles, a Peruvian bean soup from Provecho Peru. Although nothing makes your kitchen smell and sound more welcoming than a pot of soup burbling away on the stove, don't forget your slow cooker, which makes wonderful bean soups with no stove-tending required.
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Kalyn combines red and brown lentils in this flavor-packed vegan lentil chili with roasted red peppers, olives and green onion. The red lentils "melt" into the dish to thicken and sweeten it, while the brown lentils stand up to the roasted red peppers and olives. This is a make-ahead-and-freeze dish, perfect for any time of the year. A squirt of lime makes a great finish; if you're not vegan, add some cheese or sour cream.
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I love cooking lentils in the slow cooker. You can let them go until they absolutely fall apart, or stop the cooking when the lentils are soft but still holding together. This Moroccan lentil stew, from Taste and Tell, cooks lentils, potatoes and butternut squash at the same time, allowing them to meld into a uniformly creamy stew, and adds green beans at the end to keep the beans just a bit crunchy. The seasoning comes from curry powder, which I don't usually think of as particularly Moroccan; you could substitute a Syrian or Arabic spice blend for a nice effect.
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