Saturday, October 16, 2010

Another Black Bean Soup

When I make out our monthly menu, I try to be conscious of the source of protein that the meal is going to be based around.  For example, we don't usually have red meat more than once a week, I try to schedule in a bean based meal each week, and I try to also have a fish meal (although, since Hey, Babe really doesn't like fish, that is the meal that usually gets skipped entirely when we start juggling the menu).  I didn't realize that this month I had picked three different black bean soup recipes.  So far this one is at the top of the charts.

When I started to read over this recipe I realized that the ingredient list and the instructions did not completely coincide and that I was going to have to wing it.  Since I tend to do that anyway, always tweaking a recipe as I make it, that wasn't going to be a problem.  The original recipe was to turn out a very smooth, almost creamy soup, mine is decidedly not.  I left out ingredients such as jalapenos, since I wanted Little Man to eat it and he doesn't do spicy, and beer since we don't drink and I only rarely splurge and buy alcohol for cooking.  But it was the ingredients I added that really made the soup for me.  I swapped out one can of black beans for pinto beans (and did not puree them), and chopped up some bell peppers, tossing them along with a bag of frozen corn into the pot towards the end of cooking so that neither of them got too soft.

It was divine.  I loved the textural contrast between the soft pinto beans and the still firm peppers.  The corn added delightful notes of sweet among the savory beans and vegetables.  Although the soup was delicious on its own, a dollop of sour cream or guacamole and a sprinkling of shredded cheddar completed it.  As typically happens in the cases of soup, it was even better reheated the next day for lunch.

Black Bean Soup 
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion-diced
6 cloves garlic- minced
2 carrots, chopped fine
1 jalapeno-seed and ribs removed and minced (optional)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 cup beer (I used beef broth)
1 -15oz cans black beans- rinsed
1 -15oz can Pinto beans- rinsed
32 oz. chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 large bell pepper, chopped small
1 bag frozen corn

monterey jack cheese-shredded
avocado-sliced or made into guacamole
cilantro leaves
sour cream

1. Heat olive oil in a large pan and add the onion, carrot and jalapeno. Cook on medium until the veggies are very soft. Add the garlic and lower the heat to medium- low. Continue cooking for 2-3 minutes, stirring often so the garlic doesn't burn. Add cumin, cardamom and ancho chili powder, salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes.

2. Add the beer/broth and the can of black beans, continue cooking until liquid is reduced by half.  With a potato masher, smash the beans until most of them are broken up.  Continue cooking until the liquid is quite reduced and the mixture pulls away from the bottom of the pan as you stir.

3. Add the stock and the can of pinto beans and the bay leaves.  Cook for 30 minutes or until beans and veggies are tender and flavors are melded.  Add the peppers and corn.  Continue cooking until the peppers have soften to your desired consistency about 5-10 minutes.  Add more chicken broth or water if he soup becomes too thick. Remove bay leaves. Adjust seasonings to taste.

4. Pour soup into bowls and top with toppings of your choice.  Serve with tortilla chips.

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