Everything old is new again. And smokier.
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.
Let’s face it, you’re not going to impress anyone with the looks of this soup. It looks like wallpaper paste.
It tastes considerably better.