I find it so hard to believe that I refused to eat beans when I was younger. If I’m being honest, I’m not sure I even tried them before proclaiming my dislike for them. I just ordered everything sans beans. At a Mexican place? No beans or double the rice, please. Eat the Greek soup fakes (fah-kes)? No, thanks. One type of bean dish I am still not a fan of are refried beans, but beside that I absolutely LOVE beans now. And it’s a good thing, too, because beans are so healthy and cheap!
There are very few convenience foods that I use but canned beans are definitely one of them. I mean, how easy is it to open a can, rinse the beans and then add them to whatever it is you’re making? There’s no planning ahead necessary and canned beans aren’t terribly expensive (only about 79 cents at Trader Joe’s). This soup, though, was my first time using dried beans. The verdict? I’m not sure. For something like this soup, using the dried beans was incredibly easy (and, I suppose, saved me a little money). It takes about 10 seconds to put them in a large bowl with some water and then they soak overnight. In the morning, throw them into a crockpot with some water and let ’em rip all day. After draining them, it’s just like using the canned beans (but without any sort of preservatives, of course). I think I will probably still keep a mix of dried & canned beans around, though, just for those times when I need the beans at the last minute. But, I definitely like having this other, equally easy (albeit, time consuming), slightly cheaper option to use dried beans.
I’d been wanting to make a black bean soup for a while because I love soup and black beans are my favorite kind. I also think that because of the texture and the heartiness of beans, you absolutely do not miss the meat in this type of soup at all. (And I say that as a person who really *hearts* meat). I loved this soup. The flavor was great, with some spiciness from the jalapeno and some earthiness and a little more kick from the poblano. Pureeing part of the soup gives this a nice, creamy texture without adding cream, but it still leaves nice bits of corn and black beans so you don’t feel like you’re eating baby food.
You’ll have to excuse the pictures today. I still find it nearly impossible to photograph a bowl of steaming hot soup. I don’t think a brown, pureed soup really helps my cause, either. :) Just wait till you see my split pea soup if I ever post it. Yikes. All I can say is that is probably the least attractive thing to photograph. Ever.
Black Bean Soup
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1 lb. dried black beans (or 3 cans prepared beans, drained and rinsed)
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 large onion, diced
2 poblano peppers, diced
1 jalapeno (seeds/ribs removed or not, according to your choosing), minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
7 cups vegetable broth
2 tsp. cumin
1.5 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. oregano
1 bay leaf
1 cup corn
1 lime, juiced
toppings of your choice (we had sour cream and manchego cheese, but some green onions would have been great, too)
If you’re using dried beans, pick over and rinse the beans, tossing anything that doesn’t look great. Use the overnight soak or quick soaking method for your beans (directions on the bag), and drain the beans when done soaking. Then, place the beans in a stockpot and cover with cold water (to a couple inches above the beans) and simmer for about 2 hours OR place the beans and water in your crockpot and cook on low for about 8 hours. The beans should be tender to the bite. Drain the beans.
In a large stockpot or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, peppers, and garlic, cooking until tender. Stir in the tomato sauce, broth, cumin, chili powder, oregano, bay leaf, and beans. Season to taste with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove the bay leaf and puree about 1/3 of the soup mixture. You can either put a few cups of the soup in a food processor or you can do what I did and spoon some of the mixture into a large bowl, and then use an immersion blender for what remains in the stockpot. Add everything back into the stockpot, stir in corn, and lime and heat through. Season to taste if necessary.
Nutritional Information Per Serving: Calories: 193 /Fat: 3.6g / Saturated Fat: 0.3g / Carbs: 32.7 / Fiber: 9.4g / Protein: 10.1g