Friday, February 25, 2011

Black Bean Soup

The finished product, topped off with a little homemade yogurt and fresh cilantro.

Tonight's dinner was comprised of two prongs- a new recipe from a trusted source (chicken enchiladas from chef Rick Bayless, a future blog post), and an experiment of my own for a simple soup.

I've made black bean soup once before from a Bon Appetit recipe and found it lacking in taste and interest.  Also, my 4 year old kiddo has taken a recent liking to the version offered at Panera Bread, thanks in part to our regular weekly visit changing from Monday to Tuesday.  She usually ordered baked potato, but now that we go on Tuesday, it's not available and she has to make do with "black soup," as she calls it.  Thankfully, it's very tasty, healthy, and she likes it a lot.  These things inspired me to give another shot to making it at home, and I decided to wing it.

It seemed like an easy enough proposition to make a small pot of black bean soup myself, without a recipe.  Several ingredients of Panera's version are easily discernible: red bell pepper, onion, garlic, a bit of cumin.  I started with those things and added my own tweaks.  I wound up with a pretty good little pot of soup- so good, in fact, that my normally picky little eater asked for a second bowl and declared it better than Panera.  (!!!)

Because of my new budget-friendly habit of freezing beans, I have a stack of zip-top bags of legume-y goodness on ice.  You can certainly use canned beans, if you prefer.  I have packaged my frozen beans in roughly the same quantity as a can, about 15 ounces, liquid included.  My frozen beans are only lightly salted, so if you use canned, make sure you don't add too much salt until you've tasted the finished product.

This recipe also makes use of the vegetable bouillon paste I blogged about not long ago.  If you want, you can use canned veggie broth or a combination of water and bouillon cubes.  Again, make sure you go easy on the added salt.

TIP: This recipe calls for a single chipotle chile, which are sold in small cans containing a dozen or so chiles plus adobo sauce.  When you first open a can of chipotles, use what you need and put the rest of them in a clean ice cube tray, one chile and its clinging sauce per space.  My ice cube trays hold about 1 Tbsp. per section, which is the amount often required for a recipe.  When frozen, pop them out and put in a zip-top bag in the freezer.  They keep for a long time, and are fine even if frost accumulates in the bag.

Black Bean Soup
Serves 4-6

2 bags of thawed frozen black beans, or two 15-ounce cans of black beans, not drained 
1/4 cup jarred roasted red pepper, diced
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced (optional- I added this for my husband's taste but since he didn't seem interested in eating the finished product, I'll leave it out next time.)
1/4 tsp. New Mexico chile powder
1/4 tsp. Ancho chile powder (Note: find New Mexico and Ancho chile powders in the Latin section of your supermarket, or in Latin grocers.)
1/2 tsp. cumin
2 cups water
2 tsp. vegetable bouillon paste
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
Sour cream or plain yogurt and chopped fresh cilantro, optional, for garnish

In a stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to turn translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, roasted pepper, and chipotle, if using, and cook for another minute.  Stir in chile powders, cumin, bouillon paste, water, and beans.  Cover the pot and bring to a good steady simmer for about 30 minutes.  Remove the lid and simmer for another 10 minutes or so until the soup is thickened.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with small dollops of sour cream or yogurt and a sprinkling of chopped cilantro.

Used this brand for the first time.  Good stuff.  The peppers in the jar are nearly whole.  I used about half of one.

Chipotle, garlic, roasted red bell pepper.

Dueling chile powders.  Each type of chile powder in the Latin section has a distinct flavor.  New Mexico gives a light spiciness while Ancho offers a darker, smokier taste.

Sauteing the veggies and spices.

Bags o'beans

Yum!  Very filling but completely good for you- high in fiber, low in fat.

1 comment:

Katie said...

This looks absolutely wonderful my dear!