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Hunger Challenge Wrap-Up: Black Bean Soup

Posted Sep 26 2011 9:30pm

Wow, we had quite a weekend! I’ll do a weekend recap with recipes for caramelized onion and goat cheese cornbread and crème brulee stout cupcakes at some point this week!

I wanted to recap the Hunger Challenge before I moved on with new recipes. It was a rough week but enlightening in its own right.  I am one person that was able to choose to eat on a food stamp budget and for that I am grateful.  I truly hope this challenge didn’t offend anyone .  The point was not to mock or imitate those in need, but to force people to step outside their comfort zone and spark thoughts about hunger in our country.  With those goals in mind, I certainly succeeded with the challenge.

Some final thoughts:

  • Eating on $29 a week per person is doable.  It’s not fun, nor is it easy.  But doable? Yes.
  • Time is a key component to eating foods that are healthy, natural, and filling on a limited budget.  I spent days researching sale prices and simple yet filling recipes.  I grocery-shopped for two hours.  I cooked full meals almost every night.  This week took time that I’m confident most on food stamps don’t have.
  • There is no room for error when you have no extra food.  Burn your dinner? Eat it anyway.  Goopy cottage cheese?  Sorry, down the hatch.
  • Eating isn’t fun. Sure, our meals were tasty and filling.  But were they fun?  Meh, not really.  I couldn’t get creative.  I couldn’t try a new recipe.  I couldn’t experiment.  There wasn’t that enjoyment in the cooking process that I’ve come to love in the last year.  I cooked because we couldn’t afford not to, and that was that.
  • Forget your social life.  No money, no restaurants.  That’s all there is to it.

My goal was to attempt a natural and healthy diet on a limited budget, and I think I succeeded.  I would never expect a mother working two jobs to pay rent for her two children to cook the way I did last week.  That said, planning ahead just one meal can spark a change and make this kind of budget doable over time.

I also wanted to point out that I went to three stores for this challenge.  I wanted to stay as close to home as possible, so I chose two grocery stores within 3 miles of my house, and the local farmer’s market.  Again, most on food stamps aren’t going to three different stores, but I wanted to show the variety of food I was able to purchase, and what was the cheapest at each store, in this area.

I purposely chose to shop at the farmer’s market because many are now accepting food stamps – in fact, in Detroit and the surrounding area, farmer’s markets are doubling the worth of food stamps!  Obviously not everyone has access to farmer’s markets, especially those living in inner cities and more urban areas, but I wanted to at least showcase the possibility for those with one nearby.

All in all, I thought it was a successful challenge.  Maybe not realistic, but it certainly pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me think about my food and those in our country that go without.  After all, wasn’t that the point?

Here’s my last Hunger Challenge recipe – a basic black bean soup that was pretty tasty, if I do say so myself.


I used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen because they’ve never let me down, and it was simple and delicious.

Make sure you soak the beans.  I’m still conflicted over whether this actually does anything but I did it anyway, using the quick soak method again (bring beans and water to a boil, cover and turn off heat.  Beans are ready to cook in two hours).

Chop onion, bell pepper and garlic and sauté them until they start to brown, 6-8 minutes.  Add the garlic towards the end with cumin, if you have it.


Transfer all the veggies to a large pot or slow cooker.  Add the beans (one pound of dry black beans, soaked) plus 7 cups of hot water, chicken broth, or a mix of both like I did.  On the stove, the beans were done in about 90 minutes.  In the slow cooker, they may take up to three hours, on high.


Transfer half to 3/4 of the bean mixture to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and puree until smooth.  Mix everything back together in the pot and stir in salt, pepper, and lime juice from one lime, if you have it.  Serve with sour cream.

I love my sour cream.


This was a really filling, hearty soup, and pretty easy to put together!

Thanks again for following along on this Hunger Challenge with me.  Your continued support helped push me through and I appreciate each and every tiny thought you may have had about the matter.  Thank you!

Question: How much time do you put into meal planning and grocery shopping every week?

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