Friday, March 17, 2017

Best Black Bean Soup

I am trying to build up a good repertoire of vegetarian dishes (well... aside from chicken stock, but that can also easily be replaced with veggie stock), especially if they only require one pot! A and I are trying to keep an eye on grocery bills and therefore batch cooking and the freezer has become pretty vital - and I feel much better about storing and reheating vegetarian food (plus it will hopefully keep us from ballooning in size as we adjust to more American food). Now that I'm in Texas for a bit, Mexican ingredients and dishes are incredibly easy to create, so I'm enjoying wandering the aisles of the local Mexican supermarket and trying to make sense of the plethora of unfamiliar foodstuffs. The chipotles in adobo smell absolutely amazing and while this recipe doesn't use much of the can, there were lots of tips on how to freeze appropriate amounts of it for use in other dishes, and I am contemplating using some in a fusion fried rice dish (I'll let you know how that goes...)
This tastes much creamier than the ingredient list might leave you to believe, so enjoy it while also feeling good about yourself!

Best Black Bean Soup
Adapted from NYTimes


1 small (7-ounce) can chipotle chiles in adobo
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped (optional)
2 onions, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup red wine (optional)
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped (I substituted 1 large padron pepper)
1 pound dry black beans (I soaked overnight despite instructions not to)
48oz chicken stock
1 tablespoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon kosher salt (I did not need this - felt the soup was savory enough)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Red wine vinegar, to taste (optional, I used 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar)


  1. Empty the can of chiles into a blender or food processor. Purée until smooth, scrape into a container, and set aside. 
  2. In a large pot over medium heat, add olive oil, carrots, celery, onions, garlic and padron pepper (or jalapeños) and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, 5 to 8 minutes. 
  3. Push the vegetables out to the edges of the pot and dollop 2 teaspoons of chipotle purée in the center. Let fry for a minute and then stir together with the vegetables.
  4. Add beans, stock, black pepper, oregano and bay leaves. Stir, bring to a boil, and let boil 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, partly covered, stirring occasionally and adding hot water as needed to keep the soup liquid and runny, not sludgy. Continue cooking until beans are softened, collapsing and fragrant, approximately 1 hour. 
  5. Adjust the texture of the soup: The goal is to combine whole beans, soft chunks and a velvety broth. Some beans release enough starch while cooking to produce a thick broth without puréeing. If soup seems thin, use an immersion blender or blender to purée a small amount of the beans until smooth, then stir back in. Continue until desired texture is reached, keeping in mind that the soup will continue to thicken as it sits.
  6. Heat the soup through, taste and adjust the seasonings with salt, pepper, drops of red wine vinegar and dabs of chipotle purée.
  7. Serve in deep bowls, garnishing each serving with sour cream, pickled onions, cilantro leaves, sliced chiles and avocado as desired.
Update: So an Instant Pot has arrived in my life. I did steps 1-3 on the Saute setting, then added the rest (including unsoaked, dried beans) and put it on pressure cook for 30 minutes, then let it naturally release. Blending a bit of the soup helped add some creaminess in, and it was ready to go. 

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