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Big Bowl of Luscious

We’re expecting 2-5 inches of snow this evening.  What better than to make something warm, comforting and downright luscious; homemade Black Bean Soup.  Typically, the approach is to add savory ingredients, and a little heat.  The solution to this is garlic, wine, spices and peppers in varying amounts.  I seriously recommend using dried beans, rather than canned for two reasons:  1) Canned beans can’t absorb the subtlety of spices and peppers like dried beans over low heat and time and 2) It’s all about texture.  You want a combination of cooked savory beans and bean puree that creates a mouthful of yum.

The heat in this soup is accomplished two ways; canned and pureed chipotles and fresh jalapenos.  Chipotles are intense, so a little goes a long way.  I use a moderate amount with the option for guests to add additional puree if they are so inclined. Every time you consider ingredients, you increase the yum factor.  So for example, homemade chicken stock to canned, Mexican oregano to Italian or Greek.  You might not think it makes a difference, but it does.  Also your garnishes add flavor in an astonishing way.  Quick pickled red onions, avocado, sour cream or Mexican crema and of course fresh cilantro.  This combination of flavors and textures are sure to create a soup of extraordinary depth and flavor.


  1. 1 small (7-ounce) can of chipotle chilies in adobo

  2. 2 tablespoons olive oil

  3. 3 carrots, peeled and chopped

  4. 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and chopped

  5. 4 garlic cloves, minced

  6. 1 cup red wine (I use Shiraz or Cabernet)

  7. 1 pound of dry black beans, soaked overnight (I like Valentine or Black Turtle)*

  8. 2 quarts chicken stock, homemade if possible

  9. 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano

  10. 2 teaspoons Epazote (I find mine at Penzey’s)

  11. 2 bay leaves

  12. 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt

  13. 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  14. Red wine vinegar, to taste


  1. 1 small red onion, peeled and sliced vertically

  2. Kosher salt

  3. Juice of 2 limes

  4. Sour cream or Mexican crema

  5. Whole fresh cilantro leaves

  6. Sliced avocado



  1.  In a small food processor, puree your can of chipotles until smooth, scape into a container, and set aside.

  2. In a large heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium heat until shimmering.  Add carrots, onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, 5-8 minutes.

  3. Pour in wine and let simmer until pan is almost dry and vegetables are coated; about 8-10 minutes.  Add jalapenos and cook, stirring, just until softened, about 2 minutes.  Push vegetables out to the edges of the pot and dollop 2 generous teaspoons of chipotle puree in the center.  Let fry for a minute and then stir together with the vegetables.

  4. Add drained beans, stock, oregano and bay leaves.  Stir, bring to a boil, and let boil for 10-15 minutes.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, partly covered, stirring occasionally and adding hot water as needed to keep the soup liquid and runny not sludgy.  Continue cooking until beans are just softened and fragrant, 1-2 hours.  Add salt and pepper and keep cooking until beans are soft.

  5. Meanwhile, make the pickled onions.  In a small bowl, combine sliced onions, lime juice and a generous sprinkling of salt.  Let soften at room temperature until crunchy and tart, about 30 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Squeeze dry in paper towels and refrigerate until ready to serve.

  6. Adjust the texture of the soup.  Remove 2 cups of beans to a quart Mason jar, and with an immersion blender puree until smooth.  Return bean puree to soup pot.

  7. Adjust seasoning by adding 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, and additional salt.

  8. Serve in deep soup bowls, garnishing with sour cream, pickled onions, cilantro leaves and sliced avocado.

Serves 6-8 with leftovers

“To feel safe and warm on a cold wet night, all you really need is soup.” — Laurie Colwin

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