Black Bean Soup

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: 30 minutes with cooked beans

This works best when you purГ©e some of the sturdy black beans and stir them back in, for a smooth-chunky effect. But in many Latin American versions the beans are left whole, with chunks of sweet potato, squash, or even mango added toward the end of cooking. A little alcohol is sometimes added to the finished soup to help cut the richness of the beans; orange juice and/or zest is another fine addition (see the variation). Omit the dairy garnish for a vegan soup.

2 tablespoons neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn

1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon Chili Powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons sherry or dark rum (optional)

3 cups cooked black beans, drained

1 quart vegetable stock or water

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice, or to taste

Sour cream or plain yogurt for garnish

Minced fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

01 Put the oil in a deep skillet or medium saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chile powder, and cumin and cook, stirring, for another minute.

02 Stir in the sherry if you’re using it, then cook for a minute and add the beans, stock, and some salt and pepper. Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring the soup to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat.

03 Use an immersion blender to purГ©e some of the soup in the pan. Or cool the mixture slightly, pour about half of the soup into a blender, and carefully purГ©e. (The soup may be made ahead to this point, cooled, and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Reheat gently before proceeding.)

04 Add the lime juice and stir; taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve garnished with sour cream and minced cilantro.

Variation

Brazilian-Style Black Bean Soup. In Step 2, replace 2 cups of the stock with 2 cups orange juice (preferably freshly squeezed). Add 2 teaspoons minced or julienned orange zest in the last couple of minutes of cooking.