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Thursday, January 22, 2015

The "Best" Black Bean Soup

Growing up, the only person I knew who ate black bean soup was my aunt.  She always ordered it when we visited the now defunct, Casa Gallardo, in Charlotte, N.C.  It was beyond my comprehension, why anyone would go out and order a bowl of soup, when you could have a crunchy taco or an enchilada bathed in crimson sauce and oozing with cheese.  Soup, was well, just soup.  A quick snack or meal to be eaten at home, not something worthy of my time on a rare outing to the Mexican joint.  While I still love a good enchilada, my palate and appreciation have certainly warmed up to the idea of soup as a real meal.  Especially during the cold winter months.

This particular black bean soup came to be,  on one of the days in the Cancer Wellness kitchen, when Chef Nancy requested that I make black bean soup from the array of available ingredients on the counter.  I have always loved these days on the job, when I'm allowed to use my creativity and skill in creating a new dish from the ingredients on hand.  Some of these on the spot recipes are better than others, that is just the nature of the beast.  This soup turned out exceptionally well in my opinion and was even said to be, "the best black bean soup I have ever had", by one of our frequent C.W. diners.  The soup on that day was particularly spicy, and I will explain how to adjust the heat to your personal taste in the recipe below.

There is nothing like a sincere compliment to keep you motivated in the kitchen, and as I have come to learn, there is nothing like a bowl of warm homemade soup to keep you going through the winter.

The "Best" Black Bean Soup:

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped red onion
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped (remove ribs and seeds if you want a less spicier soup)
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
4 cups cooked black beans
4 cups vegetable stock
1 14.5 oz can of fire roasted tomatoes, drained
1 can chipotle chile in adobo sauce**
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Juice of one Lime
Optional Garnish:
Crumbled Feta, Avocado, Tomato


Begin by heating the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes.

Red onions saute in olive oil until translucent

Next, add the garlic,  jalapeño, salt and pepper and cook, stirring constantly until garlic is fragrant.  About two minutes.
Garlic and jalapeño are added to the softened onions
Add the beans, stock, tomatoes and one chipotle pepper in adobo and oregano.  Stir to combine.

**The chipotle peppers tend to be pretty spicy, this is why I suggest starting with one and add more if needed.  Also, any additional peppers can be chopped up and served as a condiment with the finished soup if you are serving a group of people with varying spice tolerances.

Chipotles are spicy, so start with one chili and add more if desired after taste testing

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  After twenty minutes, puree the mixture in the pot with an immersion blender or allow mixture to cool slightly and puree in a blender.  Do not put hot liquid into a blender, or you will end up with a big exploding mess!
Soup is brought to a boil and then simmered for 20 minutes before being pureed into a smooth consistency

This is a good time to taste the soup and adjust the seasonings.  Add more salt and black pepper or more chipotles if desired.  Give the soup one more whiz with the immersion blender and place back on the stove over medium-low heat for another 20 minutes to allow the soup to thicken.  Stir occasionally.

Taste for seasoning one more time and stir in the juice of one lime.  Your soup is ready to serve!  Garnish with fresh avocado, tomato and feta cheese.

This is one comforting bowl of goodness that I am passionate about!

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