Black bean soup: dinner for when the sun refuses to shine

It may seem weird posting about a soup in June but as my blogging friend (and fellow Portland dweller) Not Without Butter noted yesterday, our weather has been very temperamental this year. Instead of basking in the sun drinking a piña colada, I spent last week making soup. Sadly I’m not talking about a nice cold gazpacho or vichyssoise. Oh no, I’m talking about a thick, hearty and comforting black bean soup. Of course, even if it was hot outside I would still like this soup — after all spicy foods pair perfectly with cold beer and summer sun.

However, this dinner was certainly more on the warm-me-up-please scale of soups.

I’ll be honest about this recipe. It’s the only black bean soup recipe I have ever made — though I’ve eaten plenty — because it is exactly what I want in a black bean soup. Occasionally I’ll mix things up with extra spices or tinker around with additional vegetables, but I can say for sure that made as written, it is pretty damn delicious. It’s simple to make and it’s healthy — so it fits the bill for an easy week-day dinner.

Two quick notes. I always add some frozen corn at the very end of the process, once half of the soup has been pureed. The yellow brightens things up and, well, I just love corn. You could also add some braised pork or chicken to this — again after the pureeing process. Secondly, I would recommend never making this without cumin. It just won’t taste right. If you forget that you ran out of cumin the week before and find yourself halfway through making this recipe, just sigh deeply and put on real pants. Because you’re headed back to the store.

Anyways…let’s get started.

The ingredients are simple: a few cans of black beans, some canned tomatoes, some garlic and a jalapeño (or two depending on your love for spice), mire poix, and some stock. I use either chicken or vegetable depending on what’s on hand. And toppings of course — cheese (I like a sharp cheddar or a cojita), green onions, sour cream and chopped cilantro. And lots and lots of lime juice.

Sauté the vegetables in a large pot until fragrant. Add in cumin to toast. I usually add a few pinches of red chili flake during this part. Then add your beans, tomatoes and stock. Cover and simmer until the veggies are tender.

It will taste good but the consistency isn’t there yet. So puree half of the mixture until fairly smooth and add it back to the pot.

Oh yes, that’s the look we’re shooting for!

Now a soup this good needs a friend. And the perfect companion is corn bread — especially in the form of mini corn bread muffins. Especially if those corn bread muffins are made using my favorite all-time secret recipe. I mean look at these little guys, just adorable. And delicious.

Then put the finishing touches on each bowl of soup and dinner’s done. The only thing left is to send up a quick wish for blue skies and sunshine in the morning. At the very least, you’ll be toasty warm and happy after eating this!

4 thoughts on “Black bean soup: dinner for when the sun refuses to shine

  1. It is totally soup weather in Portland, I just had sweet potato soup with sausage last night too. Days like these make me feel so glad I’m not getting married outside!

    • ha! I hear that. We were married in August of 2007 and it rained for days right before. I was panicking because we had opted to not reserve a massive tent just in case (fees for just the reservation were pretty considerable). Thankfully it ended up being a gorgeous day. Every once in a while, Portland squeezes out a miracle.

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