Black Bean Soup

Black Bean Soup
Rain summed up the weekend in Chicago and much of the Midwest. Even though it was unseasonably warm, by Sunday afternoon I knew I needed to eat something to fend off the gusty wind and persistent dreariness. While conditions were not worthy of full-on comfort food, a bowl of soup seemed like the appropriate pick-me-up.  I scanned the pantry and found a can of black beans hidden behind a few jars. That’s when I decided on the featured ingredient.

I have made black bean soup in the past using just beans, stock and aromatics, and the results have fallen a bit flat. Adding diced tomatoes brightened the flavor and provided  much-needed acidity. Pureeing half of it in the blender gave the soup a balance between velvety smooth broth and satisfying chunkiness. To further add texture and depth, I finished the soup with a garnish of shredded Monterey Jack and Cheddar, crushed tortilla chips and chopped cilantro.

Black Bean Soup
Black Bean Soup

Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1-15 ounce can black beans, rinsed
1-15 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Shredded Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheeses, for garnish
Crushed tortilla chips, for garnish
Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes until they start to soften. Stir in the jalapeno, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper and continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes. Add the black beans, tomatoes and stock. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until soup has slightly thickened.

Remove the soup from the heat. Carefully transfer half the soup to a blender to puree. Return the puree to the saucepan and reheat before serving.

Garnish with cheese, tortilla chips and cilantro. Serve immediately.

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