Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Black Bean Soup

This is a great, easy, make-ahead soup. You can freeze it or refrigerate it - it holds really well. You can make it vegetarian if you like or add ham or bacon for extra richness.

Depending on your mood and supplies, garnishes can include sour cream, grated cheese, pickled
jalapenos, sliced scallions, chopped cilantro, chopped hard boiled egg, salsa and lime. Serve it with cornbread, corn tortillas, or tortilla chips and some sliced cucumber as a salad.

Black Bean Soup

  • 1 pound dried black beans, pick over them and check for any badly broken beans, chunks of dirt or pebbles
  • 1 large onion, chopped medium
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped fine or put through a garlic press
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo (these come in a can, pick out what you need and freeze the rest), chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons chili powder, maybe more
  • 1 cup of choppd tomatoes or tomato sauce (optional)
  • salt

Rinse the black beans - they may be dusty - rinse them until the water isn't dusty and runs clear (could be 1 rinse or 5, depending on your beans). Set aside.

In a large dutch oven or soup pot, saute the onion and garlic in a little oil until soft. When softened, add the chipotle chiles and chili powder. Saute a few more minutes. Add the black beans to the pot. Add salt (about 1 tablespoon). Cover the beans with water and bring to a boil.

Turn the heat down and simmer the soup for 1-2 hours - the beans will be soft. When needed, add more water, the beans should stay covered with water. If you like a little tomato in your soup, add them about 45 minutes into cooking (I like tomato in my soup. I don't think it makes the soup tomatoey, but it adds a layer of flavor that really enhances the black beans.)

When the beans are cooked through, use a potato masher or immersion blender to puree some of the soup - this will make the soup creamier. If you want a very smooth soup, puree the soup in a blender. You may need to add more water to make your soup "soupier". If the taste is too bland, add more chili powder to taste.

Makes 4-5 servings

If you don't need to go vegetarian, you can:

Chop some bacon, fry it up and saute your onion and garlic in the bacon fat (adding the cooked bacon into the soup pot), or add a smoked ham hock to the beans as they start to cook, or add chopped ham to the beans after they've been cooking for about 45 minutes.

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