Better Black Bean Soup
1 lb dried black beans, washed, sorted, and soaked either overnight or by quick-soak
6 cups water
2 bay leaves
2 whole chipotle jalapenos
1/8 teaspoon baking soda (helps beans retain their color)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large onion
1 large carrot
1 celery stalk
1 bell pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup vegan "chicken" broth (I use Imagine No-Chicken Broth)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
juice of 1 orange
juice of 2 limes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Tired of black bean soup that's nothing but insipid purple-gray mush? This recipe features tender whole beans in a nicely thickened broth, and a bold flavor that's spicy, smoky, and fresh all at once.
Place the soaked, drained, rinsed beans in a large sauce pan or Dutch oven with the water, bay leaves, whole chipotles, and baking soda. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer covered about 1 hour, adding salt halfway through cooking.* Check several beans for doneness. When done, remove the bay leaves. Remove the chipotles, mince, and return to pot. Remove about 1 1/2 cups of beans and liquid, puree in a blender, and return to pot. You can puree additional beans for a thicker, smoother texture.
While the beans are cooking, finely chop all the vegetables and juice the orange and limes, setting the juice aside.
When the beans have about 15 minutes left, saute the onion, carrot, celery and bell pepper in the olive oil over medium heat 5-7 minutes. Add the cumin and cayenne, then saute for another 5 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Add minced garlic and saute for 1 more minute.
Add the vegetables to the finished beans and deglaze the saute pan with the no-chicken broth. Simmer covered about 15 minutes (or leave uncovered if the soup is too thin for your taste). Add the orange and lime juice and cilantro just before serving. Check flavor and add seasonings as needed, simmering the soup a couple more minutes to incorporate any added seasonings.
Garnish with your choice of: diced tomatoes, diced avocado, cilantro leaves, vegan sour cream (I use Tofutti), or lime wedges.
The two chipotles give a medium smoky heat. If you like it hotter, you can add part or all of a minced fresh jalapeno with the vegetables, or increase the amount of cayenne.
* There is conflicting information about salting beans during cooking. Many knowledgeable vegetarian sources claim that salting the beans early toughens them and lengthens cooking time. However, another source I trust tested it and found this not to be true, and also found that salting them early gives a better flavor. I compromise by salting halfway through.
If you have a pressure cooker, you can cook the beans in about 15 minutes and cut a lot of time off this recipe.