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The Independent Culture
U is for the United States of America, a nation with a culinary tradition of long-simmered bean stews and soups - dishes now reckoned to be healthy options high in compound carbohydrates.



Serves 4

1/2 lb black beans

which have been soaked overnight

1/2 lb stewing steak or veal (and

preferably some of the bones)

1 large onion, chopped

2 teaspoons salt

pinch of allspice

2 cloves

1/2 lemon, sliced

1 glass sherry

Drain the black beans and put them into a large saucepan. Cover them with 3 pints of water, adding the meat, the bones, the onion, the salt, the spices and the lemon. Bring it all to the boil, and on the lowest heat simmer for 4 or 5 hours, until the beans are starting to fall apart.

Remove the bones and meat and tear the latter into shreds. Reserve. Discard the lemon and the cloves. Put the beans through your blender in batches, a small amount at a time, with enough water to process them until smooth. This can be done in advance if you prefer, and the bean puree kept in the fridge.

To finish, heat the mixture, adding the sherry and a little more liquid if necessary, and simmer for a further five minutes. Serve the black bean soup in bowls garnished with more lemon slices.