Smoky Southwest Black Bean Soup

I first discovered the world of food blogs when I was in college. When my diet consisted mostly of ramen and peanut butter, I found reading about other people’s experiences with food fascinating. I lived vicariously through descriptions of dishes with all sorts of ingredients I couldn’t afford to buy (because anything other than the staples was too much.) Even now, reading food blogs allows me to attach an emotion to a recipe – that’s something more than a simple list of instructions can do.

This soup is the first recipe I made from a food blog for one simple reason: I could afford it. I was geekily excited to try something new. It didn’t look pretty, but it was delicious. Even now, years later, I love making this soup along with cumin roasted cauliflower for a delicious dinner that takes almost no effort at all.

Smoky Southwest Black Bean Soup adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Serves 6

For the Soup:
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 red onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 tsp ground cumin
1 16-ounce package dried black beans
1-2 Tbsp chopped chipotle chiles from a can
7 c water
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice (from one lime)
2 tsp coarse kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

To finish:
1 Tbsp whole cumin seeds
1 c crème fraîche *or* plain yogurt
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Crockpot Method: Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and both bell peppers and sauté until beginning to brown, about eight minutes. Add garlic and cumin; stir one minute. Transfer mixture to 6-quart slow cooker. Add beans and chipotles, then 7 cups hot water. Cover and cook on high until beans are very tender, about 6 hours.

Once the beans are cooked: Use an immersion blender to partially blend the soup. (Alternatively, transfer two cups bean mixture to blender; puree until smooth, then return the puree to remaining soup in slow cooker.)
Stir in lime juice, salt, and pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Make the cumin crema: Place the cumin seeds in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Toast until lightly golden brown. Place in spice grinder or mortar and pestle and grind until coarse. Stir it into the cream and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Ladle soup into bowls and serve with a spoonful of toasted cumin seed cream.

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