Has a food from your past ever haunted you? Something you loved but couldn't recreate or find again?
When I was a kid, my best friend's dad managed a local chain restaurant. Unsurprisingly, we ate there often and I would every time we went I would always order the black bean soup. Don't ask what possessed an eleven year old to order black bean soup, I really couldn't tell you, but it was love. My food love wasn't meant to be, the restaurant changed the menu and the black bean soup was GONE! How did it not make the cut?! I guess maybe people didn't order the black bean soup that often, it probably wasn't the flashiest item on the menu.
Ever since that day I've been on the search for a great black bean soup. I used to try black bean soups at all different restaurants, and every chance I got. I got tired of the tasteless, gray, soups I kept being served and I stopped even bothering to try them. Recently, I was thinking about that black bean soup I finally decided to make one myself. I can now proudly announce that I made the best black bean soup I have ever tasted. I'm sure that 15 years has changed my memory and my taste buds, but regardless of how similar or dissimilar this soup is to the original, it doesn't really matter, because it fills the mystical gap.
Christmas is behind us, and most of the leftovers are gone. It's time to start eating real food again, recipes whose ingredient list isn't topped by sugar. This is a wonderful hearty soup, that is full of flavor and real ingredients. A little spice, garlic, and topped with one of my current favorite foods, smoked gouda (I could eat this every day), this soup is magnificent!
Brilliant Black Bean Soup
Makes about 8 servings
1 pound of dehydrated black beans
1 TB olive oil
2 medium onions
2 strips of bacon
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (canned in the international food aisle)
4 cloves of garlic
2 tsp salt
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp pepper
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup smoked gouda (as a garnish)
Prepping the Beans
I always avoided the dehydrated beans, thinking they were complicated, turns out they are easy, and cheap and you should try to cook your own beans at least once to see if it fits into your cooking practice.
- Sort through your beans and pull out any funny beans or stones
- Soak the beans in water overnight, I usually soak them for about 16 hours. I would use a glass bowl to avoid transference of flavor from a metal bowl. Fill the bowl with enough water so that the water is a few inches above the beans, they'll absorb water as they soak and you want to make sure that there is plenty of water for them.
- Rinse the beans a few times until the water runs clear.
- Put beans in a sauce pan, and fill with water 2" above the beans. Bring the water to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about a hour or until the beans are soft.
- Drain the beans and set aside. You can refrigerate these to be used at a later time, or use them right away.
I don't add salt at any time during the bean prepping process, choosing instead to add it to whatever recipe I'm making, but you can do what works for you.
Some people use the cooking water from their beans as broth in the soup, but I've heard the liquid can cause gas so I just avoid doing it and use broth and fresh water instead.
Making the Soup
- Chop the onions and bacon.
- Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat.
- Cook the onions and bacon until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, chop the chipotle peppers and garlic.
- Once the onions are soft, add the chipotle peppers, garlic and your cooked black beans.
- Season with salt, cumin and pepper.
- Stir and toss for 2-3 minutes, incorporating the spices.
- Add the broth and water.
- Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes or until some of the liquid has evaporated.
10. Turn off the heat and use an immersion blender to blend the soup to your desired consistency. I prefer some beans to be left whole, and the texture to stay a little chunky. Alternatively, transfer two cups of soup to a blender and process until smooth, return soup to the main pot and stir to incorporate. Repeat until your soup is your desired consistency.
11. After cooling a bit, stir in the cream.
12. Serve hot, and garnish with shredded smoked gouda.
Do you have fond food memories, or memories where food played an important part? Please share your food quest adventures with us, we'd love to hear them!