I don’t know about you, but growing up in the south soup was not a summer food. At least not in my house. We ate cold food whenever possible, and my mother did her best to forget that we owned a stove (not a judgment, just the facts: she is the best mother in the world and she will be the first to tell you that she gets “hurmpy”– hot grumpy). Given that background, I was surprised to find on our recent trip to Mexico that soup was served every day. Yes, in Mexico, during their hottest season, delicious, delectable soups were offered every evening: beet soup, lentil, vegetable, chickpea, onion. . .they were varied and, despite the heat, perfect.
Well, I suppose Jason took a liking to the idea; in spite of the 90 degree plus weather here in Virginia he has requested soup a few times since we came home. The one I’m going to share with you today we eat as a full meal, rather than a soup course, but I imagine you could make it fit beautifully into a larger menu.
This recipe is inspired by a long time favorite from the Dairy Hollow House Soup and Bread cookbook by Crescent Dragonwagon, Cuban Black Bean Soup Santa Fe. If you are on the lookout for a fantastic and healthy cookbook that you will turn to again and again, I highly recommend this one. Beyond that, I suppose both our recent trip and the beautiful, abundant produce available at the market just now are responsible for the evolution of this soup. Doing the Allergy Elimination Diet? This soup is a great option for you. Enjoy. (Please forgive the rotten pictures; I just can’t seem to work the camera properly these days :S ).
Summertime Black Bean Soup with Roasted Corn and Avocado Salsa
makes 5 -6 main course servings
2 cups dried black beans, rinsed, picked over, and soaked in water to cover
2 bay leaves
2 Tbs cumin seeds
1 large jalapeno, chopped with seeds
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large white onion, medium dice
2 green bell peppers, medium dice
6 cloves garlic, sliced or uniformly chopped
Soak beans overnight in enough water to cover (four cups is a good starting number). In large pot or slow cooker, combine beans with soaking water, cumin seeds, jalapeno, bay leaves and 1 tsp of salt. Add 3 cups water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and bring to a simmer, cooking, partially covered, until beans are tender, roughly 2 hours.
In a large skillet add olive oil and garlic and turn to medium heat. When garlic becomes fragrant, add diced peppers and onion. Season with salt and pepper (start with no more than half a tsp of salt. . .you can always add more, but you can’t take away). The goal here is to sweat the vegetables, not brown them, so keep the heat gentle as you sautee then until softened.
When the beans are tender and the vegetables are softened, using an immersion blender or food processor, blend half the beans (being sure to include the two bay leaves) and 1/4 to 1/3 of the vegetables together until thick and smooth. Add this and the vegetable mixture to the remaining beans in your large pot. Stir thoroughly to combine and taste for seasoning. Simmer for another 20 minutes. Serve garnished with roasted corn and avocado salsa.
Roasted Corn and Avocado Salsa
2 ears of corn
2 ripe avocados
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
lemon or lime
1/8 tsp. chipotle chili powder
Set oven to broil. Line baking sheet with foil. Remove husks from corn; cut avocados in half and remove seed. Rub corn and avocado lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Broil, turning as needed until uniformly charred. Avocados will finish before corn. When cool enough to touch cut corn from cob, remove avocado from skin and cube. Combine corn, avocado, cilantro, chipotle chili powder and the juice of 1 lemon or lime.