Black Bean Soup
All of the signs of winter are here: little hats and mittens are scattered around the mudroom, tissue boxes are on night tables, I’m wearing yoga pants and Uggs morning til night, and the poor dog hasn’t had a real walk in days. On Wednesday, it was so cold and windy, all I could imagine for dinner was a bowl of hot soup. A trip to the store was out of the question, so a quick search of the kitchen led to a few cans of black beans and some vegetables just waiting to be transformed. Within thirty minutes, we had a big pot of Southwestern-flavored black bean soup at the ready to warm our bones.
This is a pretty basic recipe. What makes it so good is the high proportion of vegetables to beans – lots of garlic, onions and even some carrots in the mix.
You don’t have to worry about finely chopping the vegetables since they’re all going to be puréed anyway. For the garlic, just pound the cloves with a meat mallet to crush and release the skin. Or, press the flat side of a knife over each clove and whack it with your palm.
Cook the onions, garlic and carrots in olive oil over medium heat until soft.
In the meantime, rinse and drain the canned beans.
Add the chicken broth, beans and spices to the vegetables and bring the soup to a boil.
Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables and beans are very soft.
Purée the soup with a hand-held immersion blender. If you don’t have one, you can use a standard blender and work in batches. Just be sure to keep the hole in the lid open and cover it up with a dishtowel – this allows the the steam to escape and avoids a hot soup explosion all over your kitchen.
Before serving, stir in some fresh lime juice to add a touch of brightness and wake up all the flavors.
Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with a dollop of sour cream – it makes it so much better and is justified, in my opinion, since there’s only two tablespoons of oil in the whole pot. Finally, scatter some freshly chopped cilantro over top.
You can get creative with additional garnishes. My husband loves to crush tortilla chips over his, and sometimes I’ll toss in some chunks of avocado. A bit of salsa might also be nice. Enjoy!
Note: If you prefer a chunkier soup, you’ll have to tinker with the recipe a bit. The vegetables will all have to be finely chopped and you’ll need to cut back on the chicken broth or the soup will be too thin.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped
- 4 large garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
- 2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 5 cups (40 ounces) low sodium chicken broth (best quality, such as Swanson)
- 3/4 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1-3/4 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, from half a lime
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pan. Add the onions, garlic cloves and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Do not brown.
- Add the black beans, chicken broth, oregano, coriander, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for about 15 minutes.
- Purée the soup using a hand-held immersion blender until very smooth and creamy. (Alternatively, you can use a standard blender to puree the soup in batches.) Stir in lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the soup into bowls and top each bowl with a dollop of sour cream and freshly chopped cilantro.
If using a standard blender, purée the soup in batches, being careful not to fill the jar more than halfway. Be sure to leave the hole in the lid open and loosely cover with a dish towel to allow the heat to escape. Pour the blended soup into a clean pot.