SUDIA & Chef Caitlin Present Low-Lactose Black Bean Soup

Over indulging during the holiday season is incredibly easy to do. Cheesy appetizers, creamy sauces, and let’s not forget the ice cream for dessert! Whether it’s a cold glass of milk, creamy yogurt or melty-gooey cheese, dairy foods are hard to resist and offer a powerful nutritional punch. Yet, all those dairy foods, while extraordinarily delicious, can be hard to digest even for those who are not lactose intolerant. Different people can handle different amounts of lactose, and there’s a solution to meet most needs in the dairy case – from lactose-free milk to dairy foods that are typically easier to digest.

We recently had the opportunity to learn more about lactose-intolerance and ways to reduce lactose intake at a Low-Lactose Creations Dinner with Chef Caitlin Steininger hosted by The Southeast Dairy Association, the National Dairy Council and Cabot Cheese. The Southeast United Dairy Industry Association, Inc. (SUDIA), who works with schools, health professionals, retailers, dairy processors and the public to promote dairy foods, has teamed up with Caitlin Steininger, a trained chef and food personality with a unique and inspiring approach to food, to create a one-of-a-kind “pop-up restaurant” featuring nine original low-lactose appetizers, main courses and desserts to promote LI-friendly dishes using real dairy products. It is important for those with LI to include small amounts of lactose in their diets to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Fermented dairy products are made using healthy bacteria to convert some or all of the lactose in milk into lactic acid. As a result, these dairy products are lower in lactose than fresh milk. These fermented dairy products include yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk, crème fraîche, and marscapone. Hard cheeses, too, are made only from milk protein and thus contain little or no lactose sugar.

The dinner, held in the beautiful loft-inspired kitchen known as The Third Space, started with the passing of trays of cheddar puffs with tomato jam and Parmesan shortbreads with fig jam. Chef Caitlin then demonstrated how to make her Black Bean Soup made with Greek yogurt and garnished with popcorn (recipe follows). A salad of peaches and green salad with toasted cumin dressing followed. We then sampled two main dishes: Roasted Chicken served atop of Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Arugula Pesto with aged cheese and Cheddar Grits Cakes with Shredded Beef And Red Eye Gravy using aged cheeses. A 3-course dessert round completed our evening with Chocolate Yogurt Cupcakes topped with Orange Marscapone Icing, Georgia Peach Preserve Sundaes, and Oatmeal cookies with homemade Horchata. And, if that wasn’t enough to convince us how amazing a low-lactose diet can truly be, Chef Caitlin made lactose-free hot chocolate and eggnog for the road!

The creamy Blender Black Bean Soup is incredibly easy to make and makes a delicious vegetarian, low-lactose dish:

2 15-oz. cans reduced-sodium black beans
½ cup Greek yogurt, plain
3/4 cup reduced-sodium vegetable broth
1 teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne
Juice of 1 lime
2 cups popcorn, air popped, no butter
Kosher salt

Drain the black beans and add them along with yogurt, broth, spices and lime juice to the blender. Blend all the ingredients together until smooth.

Heat the black bean puree on the stovetop or in the microwave to the desired temperature. Serve the soup garnished with a handful of popcorn and one last squeeze of fresh lime on top to serve. This soup makes a wonderful appetizer served in shot glasses and again garnished with popcorn or freshly chopped cilantro.

Special thanks to the Cooking with Caitlin team and the wonderful folks from SUDIA for a lovely evening of learning and food!