As I was chopping the onions for this soup I was reminded of a recent post from the Kale Chronicles on conserving water. You will have to go read the post to understand the connection to chopping onions. All I can say, is chopping onions would not be same without a good cry. It's just part of the process. And nothing quite like a good cry to make you feel refreshed. This soup needs a mountain of chopped onions. And yes, I'm feeling very refreshed now. Cleansed almost. The only problem with chopping this many onions is that after a while you can’t see what you are chopping.
This soup is slightly adapted from an oldie but goodie cookbook the “Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread” book, by Crescent Dragonwagon. Vegetarian and low-fat if you go easy on the olive oil. She recommends “if conscience allows” 1/4 cup to 3/4 cup olive oil. So I go easy on the oil – keeping it to a couple of tablespoons -- during cooking and added a little rum for flavour. It’s Cuban black bean soup after all, so I’ve decided Cuban rum must be authentic in Black Bean soup. Of course, I have no proof of this. I do know, that a little bit of rum gives the soup rich flavour. (By the way, I'm a Canadian – I’m allowed to buy and use Cuban rum, I'm sure other types of rum will work just fine. Still, I'm partial to Havana Club. )
Simple Black Bean Soup
- 2 cups dried black beans soaked overnight
- 2 litres stock or water or enough liquid to cover the beans by at least 1 inch
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 jalapeno pepper diced and seeds removed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided (used in batches to sauté your veggies, use as much olive oil as you feel necessary)
- 2 large green peppers diced
- 3 large onions diced – plus tissues for your tears
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- half a head of garlic pressed or finely chopped
- 3-4 tablespoons good quality rum
- salt to taste
- more chopped onions and cooked rice
- chopped diced fresh red tomatoes cilantro and avocado
- cheese salsa, sour cream and corn chips
- Preparing the beans: pick through the dried beans and rinse under cold water. Place in a medium-sized bowl and cover with water by a few inches and leave to sit overnight. Drain water in the morning and continue with recipe as follows. Alternatively, you can use the quick soak method and throw cleaned beans into a pot and cover with water by a few inches, bring to a rapid boil and boil for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for 1 hour. One more option, 4 19oz cans of black beans.
- Place prepared beans in soup pot and cover with stock and / or water, bay leaves and jalapeno pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to minimum and simmer on very low heat, partly covered, until beans are completely soft. About 1-1/2 hours.
- While beans cooking prepare the vegetables. In a medium sauté pan heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sauté green peppers and onions in two or three batches, adding oil between batches as necessary. Add cumin and garlic to a batch of the green peppers and onions while they sauté.
- Once beans are tender, but not mushy, add cooked vegetables to beans, add rum and allow the soup to cook for another 30-40 minutes, or until the beans are mushy soft and flavours are well blended. Mash a few beans with a potato masher or the back of your soup if needed to thicken the soup. Add salt to taste and serve.