Black Bean Soup
A giant pot sat simmering on the burner, its contents lending a spicy blend of textures and creaminess, Black Bean Soup.
It was ‘the best Black Bean Soup he’s ever had’ my youngest brother, Steven said on his last visit. He was recalling with me a special memory going back to over thirty years ago, when he and his high school buddies made their somewhere over five mile trek to my first home for a visit. This is what I served them.
Maybe you too have prepared a dish sometime in the past and later on had a family member or friend remember it fondly inspiring you then to recreate it. This homemade version is just what I’ve been working on and after a few rounds of batch testing I’ve prepared it again to share with you today, I bet you’ll love it! And as for my youngest brother, Steven, well, with summer family reunion just around the corner, and a written recipe for his favorite Black Bean Soup at hand, I can hardly wait for his next visit!
- Prepare the black beans: Begin by soaking beans overnight, instructions below
- 2 16 ounce bags black beans
- 2 red onions
- 12 cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 slices bacon, cut in half
- 2 medium sized red onions, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded, pith removed, chopped
- 2-4 jalapeno peppers, depending on spice preference, seeded, pith removed, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
- 3/4 tablespoon cumin
- 3/4 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1/2 tablespoon Mexican chili powder
- 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1/8- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- few grinds cracked black pepper
- 4 quarts, plus more if needed for thinning, beef, chicken or vegetable stock, or a combination
- 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt, more or less according to taste
- fresh squeezed lime juice, optional
- lime wedges, fresh chopped cilantro, and crumbled Manchego cheese for garnish
- On the day before preparing the soup, rinse black beans, sift through for any debris or pebbles, place beans in a stock pot, cover with cool water by a few inches and soak on counter overnight.
- Drain and rinse soaked beans, return to a clean stock pot and fill with cool water to a few inches above the beans. Stick both red onions with a half dozen cloves each and place into the bean pot with 2 sticks of cinnamon. Bring beans to a boil on high heat, reduce temperature to medium and cook beans until tender, around 50 minutes to an hour. Drain beans, remove cinnamon sticks, onions, and any remaining bits of onion in the mixture. Wash out stock pot, wipe dry, then heat pot on burner at low heat, adding in 1 tablespoon olive oil along with the bacon halves. Cook until bacon releases its fat into the pan, stir, reduce heat to very low, add in the onions, red pepper, and jalapenos cooking slowly until ingredients are well softened, around ten minutes. Scrape in the garlic and cook another few minutes before sprinkling in the spice mixture, stirring well to blend. Tumble in the cooked black beans folding throughout the pot ingredients let cook another couple of minutes before pouring in the stock. Increase temperature to medium heat until soup begins to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer around an hour for flavors to fully blend. Remove bacon, discard, (alternatively, 2 of the halves may be blended with the soup if desired.) Working in batches, transfer 1/3 of the soup at a time (up to around 2/3 of the soup) into a blender or food processor pouring the blended mixture into a separate bowl until desired amount has been blended. Be sure to keep enough of the beans whole lending both texture and creaminess to the soup before returning to the pot, stirring through and heating on low heat until soup is again hot. Sprinkle in the salt, stir, check seasoning, adding more salt if needed according to taste. Drizzle in the lime juice, if using, stir. Ladle hot soup into bowls, garnish with fresh chopped cilantro, crumbled Manchego cheese, and lime wedges.