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Black Bean Soup



I first saw this black bean soup on David Lebovitz's blog about a month back. I made it almost immediately and loved it. Then I made it again and then I made it a third time. I have been tinkering with the recipe and while I think the soup is now perfect and one of the best I've ever made, it no longer bears any resemblance to what David made. Which is why it seems right to share this recipe here before I forget it.

The key difference is that I use canned ancho chillies and other pantry goodies whereas David uses a lot of fresh vegetables. They are both great so pick the recipe depending on what you have in the pantry or fridge. Here's my version.

Ingredients
1/2 cup dried black beans
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1 ancho chilli (I have a jar of ancho in oil)
2 tbsp pitted green olives
1 tbsp capers
1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp chipotle powder
To garnish
sour cream
dried mint
crushed nachos

Wash and soak the black beans overnight. Next day, put the beans in a pressure cooker with enough water to cover and cook until soft. Drain the beans (you should have about 1 1/2 - 2 cups of cooked beans), reserving one cup of cooking water.

Peel and quarter the onion. Peel the garlic cloves and pop into a grinder with onion, ancho chilli, olives, capers and cumin seeds. Add a couple of tbsp of water and grind to a smooth paste. Put the beans and the reserved cooking water in a large pan. Add the onion/ancho paste, oregano and chipotle powder. Mix and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the vinegar and the olive oil. Let cook for a really long time. At some point, the soup will go from having bland beans to a harmonious blend of flavours. I let it simmer for between 45 minutes to an hour.

Pour into two bowls and top with garnishes of your choice. A dollop of sour cream adds a beautiful contrast and I like the crunch of crushed nacho chips. You could also add fresh herbs or even guacamole. But while all of this is optional, I've found that dried mint is an essential addition to the flavour.

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