I had forgotten how much I love black beans. I used to make a tasty black bean and salsa soup in university. With canned black beans, it was a quick and easy meal. At that time, I tried to cook black beans from dry but it didn’t work out well. I recall hard beans in a black soup. So I hadn’t really ventured to try again. Until now.
As I was reading through Viva Vegan, I was inspired to try cooking my own black beans again. I still had the 3+ year old black beans from my last adventure, so, first, I opted to buy fresh beans.
Then I got to work creating this lovely black bean and portobello Brazilian-style stew. I say Brazilian-style since authentic feijoada involves lots of meat. Instead of meat, this vegan stew does not compromise in taste. It uses both portobello mushrooms and TVP (textured vegetable protein) for a meaty texture. TVP soaks up the broth nicely and like tofu, tastes like its surroundings. It is plump and juicy, and feels like ground meat. It is also probably one of the cheapest forms of protein (I bought mine at Essence of Life, and it is at Bulk Barn, but I am fairly confident you can find it in well-stocked grocery stores as well). I really liked the flavourful combination of mushrooms, black beans, cumin and thyme in the stew.
A few pointers for next time, don’t start cooking the stew until your beans are at least 1.5-2 hours through their cooking time. I had a bit of a mismatch on my timing so I didn’t add them as early as I would have liked. As well, the leftover stew became thicker, so feel free to leave it more soupy, or add water to thin when reheating.
I also wanted to highlight how wonderful the black beans were cooked from dry. They really were better than canned, as they held their shape, had a smooth consistency and tasted better. Next time, I will cook up more black beans than I need so I can make this in no time. If you don’t want to cook up your own beans, feel free to substitute 2 cans of black beans instead for a meal with considerably less prep time.
Brazilian Black Bean Stew with Portobello Mushrooms (Portobello Feijoada)
2 cups dried black beans, sorted
1 tsp salt
2 bay leaves
1 cup large chunk TVP
2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound yellow onions, finely diced
1/3 cup red wine, light coloured Mexican beer or vegetable broth
1/2 pound (or more, up to 1 pound) Portobello mushrooms (any mushroom would work well here), stems removed and caps sliced into 1/2-inch strips, then halved
1 tsp liquid smoke (optional but good!)
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp chili flakes
2 cups vegetable broth
1. Place black beans in a large glass or plastic bowl. Cover with 4 inches of water and soak for at least 8 hours, until they have doubled in size. Drain beans and rinse. Place in a soup pot and add 5 cups cold water, salt and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer and cook for 2-2.5 hours or until beans are tender. Remove bay leaves and discard.
2. While the beans are cooking (I’d start after 1.5-2 hours of simmering), prepare the TVP and sofrito: In a mixing bowl combine the TVP and boiling water. Let the TVP soak for 15 minutes; it will double in size. When the TVP is cool enough to touch, drain it, gently squeeze out the excess liquid and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, combine the olive oil and garlic in a heavy pot. Fry the garlic over medium heat until it starts to sizzle and become fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the diced onion and fry, stirring occasionally until the onion is translucent and tender, about 6-8 minutes. Add the wine and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring to deglaze the pot. Stir in the mushrooms, liquid smoke, ground cumin, thyme, chilli flakes, drained TVP chunks and simmer for 10 minutes (to be honest, there wasn’t much liquid to simmer, so I basically was browning the TVP).
4. From the pot of black beans, scoop out 2 cups of beans and bean broth. Puree the beans with an immersion blender and set aside. Add the remaining beans and the rest of the bean broth to the simmering stew. Stir in the vegetable broth, then the pureed beans. Partially cover and bring feijoada to a rapid simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook feijoada until it reaches a chunky consistency but still has plenty of thick sauce, about 30-40 minutes. Season with salt and lots of pepper. Remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes to cool slightly.
5. Serve feijoada in large but shallow bowls. Place a cup of rice on one side of the bowl and ladle the stew around the rice. Add some chopped, steamed kale and garnish with a few orange slices.