For the longest time I've had a bag of dried black beans in my cupboard. I don't remember when I bought them and I don't know what I bought them for. Ususally I keep cans of various beans on hand, rather than dried. So for several weeks now, the thought of making something with them has been in the back of my mind, but I'd always put it off since using dried beans involves a bit of a time commitment. Either you soak them over night or you quick soak them, which depending on the bean, can still take almost two hours. Not too quick. Since Monday was President's Day and even though I did have to work, the powers that be let us leave early. Granted with the gift of more time that usual after work, I decided to tackle my black bean project.
This recipe come from Sarah Foster's first cookbook.
2 cups dried black beans, picked over and rinsed
2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
4 ribs celery, diced
2 jalepenos, diced with seeds
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 Granny Smith or other tart apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1 tablespoon dried basil
8 cups chicken stock
4 bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt
freshly ground black pepper
juice of 1 limes
2 scallions, thinly sliced (for garnish, optional)
(For the cilantro cream)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
juice of 1 lime
2 scallions, thinly sliced (for garnish)
Quick soak the beans: Place the beans in a large pot and cover with water by 3 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, and set aside.
While the beans are cooking, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, add the onion and cook, stirring for about 10 minutes, until softened. Add the red bell pepper, carrots, celery, and jalepenos and cook, stirring for about 10 more minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes longer. Add the apple, basil, broth, bay leaves, salt and pepper, and drained beans. Stir to blend. Bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 1 to 1 1/4 hours, until the beans are tender.
Remove the bay leaves. Place half of the soup in a blender and puree until smooth.
Return the pureed mixture to the pot and cook an additional 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the lime juice. Ladle into bowls, garnish with the scallions and the cilantro cream and serve immediately.
The aromatic smell of this soup while it was cooking was amazing. Fruity and spicy. As great as it smelled, it tasted even better. Most black bean soups I've encountered are kind of samey, either they taste like a soupier black bean dip or there is the overwhelming heat of chipotle. This one is slightly different thanks to the apple, basil and the fresh lime juice, but those subtle differences really make it stand out. I pureed about half the soup but I think you could almost not puree it at all. The chunks of apple looked really pretty floating amongst the black beans. And again I hate to say it, but using dried beans does make a difference in the texture. They retain their shape very well without getting mushy, even after reheating. This would be a great candidate for freezing. The cookbook suggests that it could be served over rice, but I think it's great on its own.