Black bean soup — specifically, that recipe for black bean soup shown above — was one of the first things I ever taught myself to cook. Although I knew how to make a couple of simple things (eggs, beans and rice, lasagna), this was the first time I had cooked something just because it sounded good and not because I had ever eaten it before.
It did not let me down. Hearty and not-too-spicy, it immediately became part of my cooking repertoire, with a few tweaks here and there along the way.
For the past ten years, I’ve been pretty faithful to this recipe, from Vegetarian Times’ Low-Fat & Fast, but I think I’ve found the thing it’s been missing this whole time: chipotles — large jalapeño peppers that have been smoked and dried. I used the recipe for Smoky Black Bean Soup from How to Cook Everything, adapting it to what I had on hand, and it was sensational.
I’ve always been really put off by the idea of using chipotles before (the least of my concerns being the fact they look a bit like a discarded cigar butt) but the chipotle adds an incredible smoky note to this soup. I honestly wish I had known about these when I was still vegan and I craved the smokiness of a good bacon. Although I took the pepper back out of the soup before puréeing it, I think you maybe could leave it in for extra heat? I’m honestly not entirely sure — the mysteries of the chipotle still elude me.
Smoky black bean and roasted corn soup
Sauté an onion and a few cloves of minced garlic in small amount of oil or butter. When soft, add a tablespoon of chili powder and cook another minute or so. I added about 3 cups of beans plus 3 cups of cooking liquid from my favorite method of cooking beans, but you can use canned beans (plus liquid or stock). Add a good-sized chipotle to this, bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer for 10-15 minutes. Fish out the chipotle and purée with a stick (or regular) blender to the consistency you’d like. Stir in two cups of fire-roasted corn (I used Trader Joe’s frozen corn, but any kind would do), squeeze in about half a lime’s juice, and serve with sour cream or crema.