Friday, March 13, 2009

Black Bean Soup and The Daily Show: Delicious! Angry!

I usually write these posts well in advance. Today’s was to be about a recent dream in which Al Pacino stopped by to deliver cake to my sister. (“Everyday at 4:30, she passes my HOUSE, and she LOVES my CAKE! So I thought I’d bring her some HERE.”)

Then, this morning, I caught wind of last night’s Daily Show, where Jon Stewart’s sat down with CNBC’s Jim Cramer. And … whoa.

Backstory: Jon and Jim have been feuding all week, after a cohort of Cramer’s skipped a Daily Show interview. In response, TDS produced a blistering takedown of CNBC, essentially calling the channel a fraud. Cramer fired back, Jon fired back again, and it came to a head yesterday, when Cramer appeared on TDS for his own interview.

And by “interview,” I mean “public slaughter.” Just to give you an idea, here are a few choice quotes from Stewart:

“You know, we're both snake oil salesman to a certain extent, but we do label this show as snake oil here.”

“I got to tell you, I understand you want to make finance entertaining, but it's not a [expletive] game.”

And finally:

“What we are getting is, listen you knew what the banks were doing. And yet we're touting it for months and months. The entire network was. And so now to pretend that this was some sort of crazy, once in a lifetime tsunami that nobody could have seen coming is disingenuous at best and criminal at worst.”

Again, whoa.

Here’s the thing - Jon’s not blaming Cramer for the crash, nor is he attacking Cramer’s personal ethics. (Well, maybe a little) He’s attacking the competence of televised financial news, and Cramer was the only one to sack up and attempt to defend it. (Poorly. Oh-so-very poorly.)

Ideally, the prime responsibility of news organizations is to act as a watchdog for the public – to strive for objectivity (which doesn’t truly exist, but still), to be the fourth estate that Thomas Jefferson so eagerly promoted as a check/balance for government. Financial news, in particular, has to be extra-vigilant, as it ostensibly affects the well-being of millions.

CNBC failed at that. Really, it didn’t even try. Part of it is the nature of television. CNBC survives on ad dollars generated by ratings, and the easiest way for most cable TV channels to garner those ratings (Nickelodeon and ESPN aside) is through celebrity and shock value. So CNBC brings on the CEOs and the loud, flashy financial bigwigs. And they lob softball interview questions so they'll come back. And they tell the public, who has much less experience in economics, that these people are trustworthy, EVEN THOUGH CNBC KNOWS BETTER.

Stewart’s takedown is a few months (years) too late, and it's tinged with blamegame-ism, but it’s merited. Where were these guys when bad stuff was going down? Why didn’t they investigate? Why did they sidle up to industry bigwigs when they knew they were charlatans? It’s the same damn questions we asked of the news a few years ago when Hurricane Katrina hit, and it’s frustrating as hell to see it happen again.

So that’s my two cents. Readers, how about you?

Oh! Wait! But don’t go yet! There’s food. Namely, this black bean soup from Mark Bittman. It’s delicious! With a fried egg on top, it’s even better! Eat it! Happy weekend!

Black Bean Soup with Fried Egg
Adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
Serves 4

1-1/2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder, or more to taste
2 15-ounce cans black beans (or 3 cups cooked from dry), drained and rinsed
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Juice of 1 lime, or to taste
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

For garnish:
Sour cream or plain yogurt, or 4 eggs (1 egg per bowl)
If using eggs, 1 tablespoon olive oil

1) Heat 1-1/2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 6 or 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and chili powder and cook, stirring constantly, for an additional minute.

2) Add the beans, stock, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a gentle boil, then simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes.

3) If using eggs, heat an additional 1 tablespoon of oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-low heat in the meantime. Add the eggs, cover, and fry slowly until the whites are completely set and the yolk is to your liking.

4) To thicken the soup, purée it briefly with a stick blender, transfer half through food mill or into a blender, or just mash it by hand. Remove from the heat and add the lime juice. Adjust seasoning as necessary, garnish with cilantro and egg or yogurt or sour cream. Serve immediately.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
Plain soup: 258.5 calories, 6.3 g fat, $1.10
With one fried egg on top: 362 calories, 15 g fat, $1.25

Calculations for Plain Soup
1-1/2 tablespoons canola or olive oil: 179 calories, 20.2 g fat, $0.23
2 medium onions, chopped: 92 calories, 0.2 g fat, $0.53
2 cloves garlic, minced: 9 calories, 0 g fat, $0.09
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder, or more to taste: 35 calories, 1.5 g fat, $0.06
2 15-ounce cans black beans, or 3 cups cooked from dry: 641 calories, 3.2 g fat, $1.50
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock: 67 calories, 0 g fat, $1.33
Juice of 1 lime, or to taste: 10 calories, 0 g fat, $0.33
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped: 1 calories, 0 g fat, $0.33
TOTAL: 1034 calories, 25.1 g fat, $4.40
PER SERVING (TOTAL/4): 258.5 calories, 6.3 g fat, $1.10

Calculations for Soup Plus Fried Egg

1 tablespoon olive oil: 119 calories, 13.5 g fat, $0.11
4 eggs: 296 calories calories, 20 g fat, $0.50
TOTAL: 415 calories, 33.5 g fat, $0.61
TOTAL PLUS SOUP: 1449 calories, 58.6 g fat, $5.01
PER SERVING WITH SOUP (TOTAL/4): 362 calories, 15 g fat, $1.25

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Becky said...

I'm with ya, 100%.

Amy B said...

It took a "fake newsman"to hold CNBC accountable, and to even attempt to explain the financial shenanigans to the public. Thank god for Jon Stewart. I don't think mainstream journalists have a clue how far they have fallen in the public's esteem these last few years. Sorry, that's my rant for the day!

Sandy said...

Why oh why did you desecrate black bean perfection with a runny ole egg? The problem is, I'm a big fan of black beans in all kinds of ways and I'm a hater of soft-yolk eggs in all their partially cooked stages... Ah well. Thanks for the great rant and the great (mostly) recipe!

Autumn said...

Agreed x 1000. I just wish these sorts of righteously angry tirades had more tangible effect on their targets--although watching someone sqirm does give me a little taste of vindictive satisfaction. Now that's Good Eats!

vincent said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Laura said...

Do I use the juice with the beans or can I drain and rinse? Looking forward to trying the recipe.

Daniel said...

I think the problem with any financial news channel is that if you spend too much time talking only about the things that suck about various stocks and companies, pretty soon nobody will bother to come onto your channel and talk to you.

Not to mention eventually nobody will pay to advertise with you.

So the bias of these networks has to be tilted toward the positive if they want to stay in business. As viewers, we just need to be mindful of that general bias.

Casual Kitchen

Kris said...

Laura, the black beans should be drained and rinsed. Thanks for the heads up - I added it into the post.

Liz said...

I am totally on the "everything's better with a fried egg on top!" train, and black bean soup can be no exception, right? I'm making this for dinner tonight/lunch all week.

I also wanted to say how much I like your blog in general--I'm trying to pare down my expensive food-blog recipe habits, and you've totally helped me out. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

It is ironic that Jon Stewart and a comedy show instead of the regulators or news media had to bring all of this public. Also in Cramers defense he is far less guilty than most of the other financial media for their efforts together with Wall Street, the politicians & incompetent regulators for what has happened.

While I enjoy watching Cramer every night, one must remember the show is primarily entertainment. The financial networks exist to promote their advertisers financial and investment products. Who would expect them to warn about the credit bubble or coming Washington national debt collapse which will destroy much of the remaining private wealth in America today or what this will do to the dollar, the stock market, bonds, gold or the real estate market?

China is now worried about their dangerous over investment in US Treasury obligations. Washington ’s long-term choice is either repudiation or monetization. For monetization to be effective, the depreciation in the dollar would have to be substantial and this in turn would dramatically raise prices of imports for American consumers which would mean a tremendous drop in foreign imports. Debt monetization would cause more disruption to exporting nations than selective repudiation of Treasury debt.

The Campaign to Cancel the Washington National Debt By 12/22/2013 Constitutional Amendment is starting now in the U.S. See:


Ron with 30 plus years in the investment business and banking industry.

Anonymous said...

Soups good! The idea of an egg on top scares me, so I didn't add it. But the black bean soup, YUM!!

Laura said...

Thanks, Kris! The recipe is fab on the first round and was even better as leftovers. A definite keeper!

Rachel said...

Thanks, this was so good! My husband is usually not a fan of soup, but he wants to claim this for his lunches all week. He'll have to fight me for it ;)

Anonymous said...

I was introduced to this soup from this website and now we make it all the time - thank you!

Also works well for reheating. Sometimes I put cut up a boiled egg and put that on top instead of a fried egg.

Ginger said...

I can't say yummy about this enough. I made a change to it, I used 2 cans vegetarian refried black beans, and the texture was perfect without having to moosh or blend or dirty an extra appliance. CHG has not let me down with any recipes. It is the first time trust like this has ever happened to me with a recipe collection; thank you so much for this blog.

Kris said...

Ginger! Thank you so much. I'm glad everything is working out for you.

Ginger said...

I make this recipe at least once a week and I don't know if will ever lose its charm. Today, my eggs were too past their prime to star in this dish, so I made a cooked shrimp cheviche to top it with. It was super good, so I thought I would pass the tip on. The price was a little more then just eggs, but with such an economic dish to start with, splurging doesn't hurt.

MOrrison said...

How many cups are equal to 1 serving?