From me to you on an icy NH day. This soup can be made in your crockpot too if you don't want to mind the stove. Soak your beans overnight or using the quick method (or cheat and use 3-4 big cans(I'm guessing) of black beans, drained and rinsed) and then put everything into the old faithful to simmer away all day. You will be richly rewarded no matter which way you do it. Top with diced raw tomato, pepper, avocado, tomatillo, scallions cilantro and salsa. If you want to indulge, add a spoonful of tofutti sour cream and a sprinkle of daiya shredded cheddar!
The smoky flavor comes from the cumin and smoked paprika. If you want to go all out with the smoky rich flavor you can char your onions on a grill before adding them to the pot. I find that the spices and the chipotle in adobo do the trick, but you can take it as far as you'd like!
A tip or two:
- To stretch this soup you can also make a pot of rice and serve a ladle of soup with a bowl of rice and the chopped veggies of your choice.
- Leftovers can be frozen in small amounts and added to a pot of minestrone or tomato soup to make a savory base.
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Smoky Black Bean Soup
3 cups dry black beans (about 1 lb), soaked overnight
1 Tbsp olive oil
6 celery stalks
6 cloves garlic
2 large onions
10 cups water + 6 Tbsp broth powder or use your favorite broth in place of the water/powder
1 piece of dried kombu (optional)
2 Tbsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 chipotle with 1 tsp adobo sauce or 2 tsp chipotle powder
(more or less to suit your taste)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Pick over your dry beans and pull out any debris or pesky pebbles. Place the beans in a big soup pot, cover with a few inches of water and soak them overnight. If you’re short on time, bring your bean pot to a boil for 10 minutes then shut it off and let the beans soak for an hour at least before continuing. Drain the soaked beans and discard the soaking water. While your beans are in the colander draining let’s work on the base of the soup.
Working in batches using your food processor or your big kitchen knife, get the celery, carrots, garlic and onion to a mince. I do each veg separately because my food processor is on the small side. Plus, for whatever reason, I like sautéing my onions before the rest of the veg, so it makes sense in my mind to keep the veggies separate at this point.
Heat your oil in the soup pot over medium heat. Saute the onion until it is softened and golden. Stir in the spices along with the chipotle and adobo and let them go for a few minutes with the onions until everything is smelling amazing! Add in the other minced veg, stir and cook for another minute. We are looking to build that incredible glaze on the bottom of the pan really; that caramelized layer adds a lot of flavor and we want it to work for us! The veg will cook along with the beans, so don’t worry about them. Just stir them so nothing burns.
Add the soaked beans, kombu, water and broth powder. Kombu is a variety of seaweed which improves the digestibility of beans. You can remove it when the beans are cooked or incorporate it into the soup. Increase the heat and bring everything to a boil for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat so we’re just at a slow simmer, cover the pot and leave it for about 90 minutes. We aren’t cooking the beans to a soft oblivion today, we’re aiming for a bit of bite. Pull out the kombu if you can find it, otherwise it will be blended into the soup yielding a little nutrition and a pinch of salty flavor (1 piece of kombu in this size pot will barely be noticeable if you puree it in).
At this point, turn off the heat and let the soup cool for a few minutes. We will be pureeing the mixture to yield a smooth bean soup. If you’d rather not, then stop here, taste and adjust your seasoning before serving. In my house, we like this soup mostly smooth with some whole black beans and then toppings of diced raw tomato, scallions, avocado, salsa, etc. So once the soup has cooled a bit I reserve about 2 cups of cooked black beans in a bowl and then I ladle the rest in batches into the Vitamix blender and puree it. This requires one big bowl on the side of the blender to hold the puree while I work through the non-pureed soup from the pot. Then I put the pureed soup back into the pot, toss in the reserved beans and stir. If the soup is too thick for your tastes go ahead and thin it with water or broth until you get a consistency you like. If I need to heat it to serving temp, now’s the time. Otherwise it is ready to be put in the fridge or freezer for a later meal.
The great part about this soup is that unlike dairy based soups this freezes really well and doesn’t break. The flavor improves on day 2 and 3. I tend to go mild on the chipotle favoring the addition of salsa or chiles by each soup eater. It’s easier for me and my husband to make our bowls spicier rather than asking our kids to take the heat!