black bean soup

Black bean soup recipes can be found across my cookbooks, but I have yet to find one as satisfying as this one, adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian. She says this version hails from Costa Rica, and that it is delicious with an egg poached into it.

The key to the extraordinary flavor of this recipe is the specific aromatics cooked with the beans. Although we generally make all our beans from dried ones to save money, reduce environmental impact, and reduce our bpa exposure – not to mention the better flavor and texture – I can’t stress enough the difference it makes for this recipe.

Serves 4-6.

For boiling the beans:
-2 cps dried black beans, washed and picked over
-5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
-1/2 large bell pepper, diced
-6 tb chopped cilantro
-2 tsp salt

For the soup:
-3 tb olive oil
-1 garlic clove, chopped
-2 medium onions, chopped
-1 large bell pepper, seeded and chopped
-1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
-2 celery stalks, diced
-2 well-packed cups of chopped cilantro
-1 tsp salt
-freshly ground black pepper
-1/4 tsp cayenne

Optional garnishes:
-3 tb heavy cream
-3 tb sour cream or plain yogurt
-1 tb chopped cilantro
-1 tb canned chipotle peppers or hot sauce
-dash of salt

1. If you remember the night before, soak the beans in water to cover by 5 inches. This reduces the cooking time.
2. Drain the beans, combine in a pot or pressure cooker with 8-9 cups of fresh water. Add all bean ingredients – EXCEPT SALT – to the pot, bring to a boil, and then simmer until tender. Depending on whether you soaked the beans, the hardness of your water, and the age of the beans, this might take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours. If you have a pressure cooker, it’s about 12 minutes. Add the salt, stir, and cook until very tender – 15 minutes in a pot, or just a few minutes in a pressure cooker. Strain, reserving the liquid and beans in separate bowls.
3. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onions, bell pepper, jalapeno, and celery, and saute until soft.
4. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the cilantro, saute for another minute, and turn the heat off. Add 1 cp of beans and 2 cups of bean liquid and blend either with an immersion blender or transfer to a blender. Heat back up in the pot with the rest of the beans, bean liquid, salt, pepper to taste, and cayenne. Taste and adjust seasoning. Top with garnishes.

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