It is somewhat of a pity that the one tea in my collection that is five years old and still fresh as a daisy happens to be the one tea I can't stand, Lapsang Souchong! Why keep it, you ask? Well, although I can't stand to drink the stuff, I use this tea for that "liquid smoke" flavor in cooking, and I was astonished this week to realize it's now been five-plus years since my friend Sarah procured it for me on a trip to San Francisco. Open that bag of tea and you have to clear the room, the scent is still so strong, and the taste seems not to have weakened any either! (This tea is also a great example of why I feel free to ignore those "rules" about how long to keep tea. I really believe it depends on the tea, because I've had some that were flavorless when I bought them and others that lasted much longer than a year.)
The tea cookbook I reviewed last weekend ("Tea: A Little Indulgence") contained a recipe for Black Bean Soup made with Lapsang Souchong, and since Ginger said she'd like for me to share any of the recipes I try, I thought I'd share this one, which I absolutely loved! The Lapsang Souchong (which I brewed weak instead of strong as suggested) added just a slight smoky note to the soup, which you make and then puree. I wasn't sure how that would work out, pureeing a soup containing black beans, tomatoes and rice, but the texture was very light and cream-soup-like, something I'd be perfectly happy to serve at tea. I also left some of the soup "whole" and took it to the office for lunch. It was equally tasty, just with more of a vegetable soup look. This was an easy, tasty and nutritious soup, and if you have some too-strong, smoky tea on hand, you might want to try this yourself! I am including the recipe as I made it, because I substituted brown rice for the white and would recommend that as well.
Black Bean Soup with Lapsang Souchong
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup water
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, in juice
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, in juice
1/3 cup brown rice
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups *weak* brewed Lapsang Souchong (or stronger if you like this tea)
Over medium heat, sauté onions in oil until they're translucent and starting to brown. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Add water, beans, tomatoes and rice, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer about 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and add tea, mixing well. Transfer in batches to a blender or food processor and puree on high. Yields 6-8 servings.