From Too Many Chefs -

October 5, 2006
Full of Beans: Black Bean Soup

Yesterday, I introduced you to our week-long Full of Beans project. We made a big pot of black beans and set aside a little of the liquid from the pot for some of our recipes to use those beans.

Today, we're making one of the most satisfying bean recipes with our pot of black gold - black bean soup. That liquid you set aside when you made the full pot of beans will be put to good use here. It's loaded with black bean flavor and will serve only to intesify the flavor of the actual beans we use in this soup.

I've had a lot of black bean soups, thick and thin, spicy and lime-y. In my opinion, the best black bean soup should be spicy and hearty. You should finish your bowl of soup and either be sated or ravenous for the next course (if you didn't have enough of the soup). The soup recipe I present here is among the simplest, with aromatics and spicy chipotle chile bits enhancing but not hiding the flavor of the black beans.

If you've got prepared black beans in your refrigerator (or in a can, I suppose), you can have this dish on your table in under twenty minutes.

You'll finish this soup with a slight burn in your mouth (but not too much of one), and a full belly. If you like it spicy, add more chipotle chiles.

For absolute best results, have this for lunch on a cool autumn day on your balcony or deck with a nice beer or a margarita.

Black Bean Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium leek, white and pale green part only
pinch of salt
2 cups water from a cooked pot of black beans ("bean juice") or vegetable stock
3 cups cooked black beans
1 chipotle chile in adobo
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano.
1 cup half and half
salt and pepper to taste

queso fresco or goat cheese to crumble over the soup when done.

Cut the root end off your leek. Split the leek lengthwise and wash it thoroughly under cold running water. Cut the leek into 1/2" slices across the width of the leek.

Chop the chipotle chile finely and set aside.

In a medium sauce pan, heat your olive oil until it is just shy of smoking. Add the leeks and a pinch of salt. Sautee the leeks until tender. Add the beans and bean juice (I love that phrase) or add stock if you don't have any bean juice. Add the chipotle. Add the oregano. Stir. Heat until soup is hot throughout.

Transfer the soup to a food processor or better, use an immersion blender. Blend the soup until thick and smooth. Return to the saucepan if you did the blending in a food processor. Add the half and half slowly while stirring untilt he soup is a lovely attractive purple/grey (it tastes better than it looks, really). Taste and adjust salt and pepper.

Serve with a crumble of queso fresco over the top.

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at October 5, 2006 6:48 AM

Only one chipotle? Nah..... I agree, the best black bean soups are spicy and rich. I've never tried adding cream, though. Will have to try this recipe. Thanks.

Posted by Lydia on October 5, 2006 at 6:47 AM

Lydia, I was tempted to add more, but I messed up a dish last week because I tasted the chipotle by itsef, then adjusted seasonings until it was too hot to eat.

I've been trying to restrain myself.

Posted by barrett on October 5, 2006 at 7:56 AM

And here, we see the fatal flaw in the pescetarian lifestyle: the inability to pair black beans with their natural counterpart, pork. I'm sure this is a wonderful soup, but I can guarantee that some diced chorizo would make it orders of magnitude better.

Posted by Sweth on October 5, 2006 at 8:08 AM

Actualy, I'd say smoke is the perfect accompaniment to black beans, whether that's in the form of pork or chipotle chiles.

But pork does come from some magical creature, I will certainly agree to that.

Posted by barrett on October 5, 2006 at 9:32 AM

Homer Simpson: Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. Lisa, honey, are
saying you're never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon?
Lisa Simpson: No.
Homer Simpson: Ham?
Lisa Simpson: No.
Homer Simpson: Pork chops?
Lisa Simpson: Dad! Those all come from the same animal!
Homer Simpson: [Chuckles] Yeah, right Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.

; )

Posted by Meg in Paris on October 5, 2006 at 9:58 AM

Pork is magical animal indeed, and the fattiness of a good chorizo (which Barret condemned to me offline) is one of its best forms of magic.

The real question, though, is whether there's a food for which Barrett doesn't think smoke is an appropriate accompaniment.

Posted by Sweth on October 5, 2006 at 11:22 AM

Hmmmm... a food that wouldn't benefit from smoke?

Well there's- no, that'd be pretty good. How about- no, I've had that and it was delicious.

I'll have to get back to you.

I guess that's what you get from growing up in a house with two cigarette-smoking parents.

Posted by barrett on October 5, 2006 at 1:52 PM

Lapsang suchong tea - can't stand the stuff!

Posted by Meg in Paris on October 6, 2006 at 9:06 AM