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A Healthy Recipe for the New Year

Jennifer Meister shares a rich black bean soup recipe.

We knew it would happen. It started with feasting at Thanksgiving followed by a month of eating and more eating as we toasted our way through Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year's Eve. So, here we are starting anew with fond holiday memories behind us and a serious craving for some veggies and a bean or two to start off the new year.

Certified Holistic Health Counselor Jennifer Meister is serious about healthy eating and so much more. Just ask a regular at The Bar Method in Summit about Jen, where she's an instructor and you'll be met with an exhausting sigh about her no-nonsense vigorous teaching style. Before her gig at The Bar Method, she had her own yoga practice for seven years. All of these "teaching moments" led her even further toward her goal for a simple, clean and whole lifestyle by getting a degree from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in NYC. Now she not only councils people on leading a more healthful lifestyle, she shares it along with recipes on her blog, Simple, Clean, and Whole.

"I am forever nourishing my mind body and soul through learning and teaching. For the last 20 years I have not only been a student of education but a teacher as well. As I received my Masters Degree in Education, I knew my quest in life was to TEACH. I guided my students at school through learning with their minds, to spiritually touching my students through the practice of Yoga, to physically supporting my students at the Bar Method, and finally now I believe the icing on the cake (ha-ha) guiding my clients on the journey of a Simple Clean and Whole lifestyle," Meister said.

Jen's version of black bean soup is something she makes all year long and not a bad way to start the new year. Warm, hearty and satisfying, the bonus is that it's healthy too. As a mom, she knows the tricks to layering flavors so everyone in the family's happy whether it's husband Drew or her kids Elly and Jack. 

"The key is making the beans in advance, Meister added. "It is what makes this black bean soup different from the others. Imagine serving your family this delicious one pot meal with a mixed green salad and crusty piece of bread on a cold winters evening. Lots of LOVE! Awesome SUPERBOWL choice. It can be eaten as is for a vegetarian dish, or for carnivores add your favorite meat. My husband actually likes it with some bacon crumbled on top."

Black Bean Soup

Prep time: 30 minutes + overnight soaking

Cooking time: 3 hours

Serves: 6-8

To Prepare Beans

1 pound dried black beans

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 medium onion, chopped

4 large garlic cloves, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

To Make Soup

Prepared black beans

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 medium onion, chopped

4 large garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon cumin

28 oz can diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 tablespoons tomato paste dissolved in 1 cup water

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1 cup crumbled goat cheese or cheese of choice

To Make Beans

Soak beans 6 hours to overnight. Heat the oil in a large heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft approx. 3 minutes, add 1/2 garlic until fragrant. Add the beans and soaking liquid and bring to a boil. They should be covered with at least 1 inch of water..add more water if necessary. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Add salt, the cilantro, and remaining garlic. Continue to simmer for 1 hour until the beans are soft and broth is thick and fragrant. May be set aside for up to 4 days in the refrigerator for the best flavor.

To Make Soup

Heat oil in heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add onion cook stirring until the onions are lightly colored, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, stir together for approx. 1 minute until fragrant. Add chili powder and cumin. Stir for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, oregano, and salt to taste. Bring to simmer and cook until tomatoes have cooked down, approx. 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste dissolved in water and simmer for 15 minutes. Once mixture thickens add the tomato mixture to the beans and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes. Add more salt to taste. Blend 1/2 to 3/4 of the soup and add back to pot. 

Before serving, stir in the cilantro. Spoon chili into bowls with a spoonful of goat cheese or your choice of cheese.

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