Are you looking for balanced meals? This healthy and hearty black bean soup could be just what you need. It can be prepared pretty quickly thanks to canned beans and it tastes remarkably fresh with the addition of some carrots, celery, garlic and loads of cumin. Aromatics make all the difference! What’s quite clear after trying this recipe is that a soup doesn’t need a long list of spices for a complex final flavor. I love topping this soup with a spoonful of Greek yogurt, a few slices of avocado, and fresh cilantro. Keep your black bean soup vegetarian or even vegan by omitting the yogurt and obviously the bacon, or make it heartier for meat-lovers (like me) by adding some sautéed chorizo sausage to the mix: it will get a lovely extra kick.
INGREDIENTS 1 1/2 cups dried black beans (10 oz), picked over and rinsed 8 bacon slices (7 oz), chopped 1 small onion, diced) 1/2 red bell pepper, diced 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped seeded fresh jalapeno chile 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled 1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled 3 qt reduced-sodium chicken broth (96 fl oz) 3/4 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
To prepare a nice black bean soup cover the beans with cold water by 3 inches in a bowl and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours. Drain well in a colander. Cook the bacon in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, which takes about 5 minutes.
Transfer the bacon with a slotted spoon to a small bowl and pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from pot. Reserve 2 tablespoons chopped bacon for topping, then return the remaining bacon to pot and heat over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the onion, bell pepper, chile, garlic, oregano, bay leaf, and thyme and sauté, stirring frequently, until the onion results softened, about another 5 minutes.
Add the beans, chicken broth, and white pepper and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until beans are very tender. This will take about 2 1/2 hours. Discard bay leaf and stir in cilantro. Serve your black bean soup topped with sour cream, chopped cilantro, and reserved bacon.
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