Spicy Vegan Black Bean Soup
Well folks, the holiday season is officially upon us! And after returning from my parents’, where the Freds gorged ourselves on Chicago style pizza, decadent holiday dishes and dinners graciously paid for by others for a solid week, we’re feeling a bit… full. Add to that the month prior to Thanksgiving where my coworker insisted on keeping a candy basket filled with discounted Halloween candy between our desks, and I feel like I’m ready to finish my holiday season of unbridled indulgence, not begin it! My body is craving vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins. In two words – efficient nutrition. Which is why I am incredibly thankful for meals like the one we’re featuring today – spicy black bean soup packed with flavor and good for you ingredients.
This is the perfect meal to move us from the Fall to the Winter; its spiciness heats our bodies from the inside, while the beans keep us full and happy. And this soup pulls off the best food party-trick – it’s a healthy meal that’s still incredibly filling and decadent feeling. It’s also, shockingly, vegan and gluten-free, which means you can serve this to pretty much anyone so long as they don’t mind a bit of spice. It pairs well with our previously cooked poblano tomatillo rice and morel and asparagus quesadillas, or if you’re just starting your season of decadence and want a healthier soup to balance out a more traditionally cheese packed Mexican entre, lookout for next Sunday’s recipe for goat cheese enchiladas with mole sauce (pictured above)! Either way, as we enter what many people in this country consider their holiday season, consider taking a break from the standard holiday fare and give this a try…
Spicy Vegan Black Bean Soup (adapted from Cooks Illustrated)
1 lb dry black beans, rinsed, drained and sorted (equals roughly 2 cups)
2 bay leaves
2 tbs minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
5 cups water
1.5 tsp salt
3 tbs olive oil
3 medium or 2 large onions, diced
3 celery ribs, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 bag frozen corn
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1.5 tbs cumin powder
6 cups broth
2 tbs fresh lime juice
additional salt and pepper to taste
Diced red onion
Grilled corn kernels
Grated Jack or Colby cheese
To prepare your beans, place beans, bay leaves, chipotle peppers and 5 cups water in a large saucepan, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, skim off any scum that may have risen to the surface and stir in 1 tsp salt. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the beans are tender, about one and a quarter to one and a half hours. Remove your pan from the heat, discard your bay leaves and set the beans aside without draining them.
As your beans near tenderness, you may start your soup. Heat your olive oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add your onions, celery, carrots and a half teaspoon of salt, stir to coat and cook until the vegetables are tender and slightly browned – about 10-15 minutes. Reduce your heat to medium low and add your garlic, red pepper flakes and cumin. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes. Next, add your cooked beans with their cooking liquid and your broth and increase the heat to medium high. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
Now, remove 1/3 of the soup and blend (either in a blender or in a separate bowl with an immersion blender) until smooth. Return the blended soup to your pot along with your frozen corn. Simmer on low until the soup is heated throughout, then remove from the heat and stir in your lime juice. At this time you may wish to add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve hot along with several garnishes for guests to choose from.