Saturday, February 6, 2010

Dark and Mysterious

I could be referring to the gloomy sky outside. Or I could be referring to something dark, mysterious, and handsome. But I'm actually referring to one of my chile pepper success stories ~ Black Bean Soup. (You knew all along, right?) For years I have tried to master slow cooked black beans. The recipes I've tried have always been bland, and then at the last minute I haphazardly throw in a bunch of seasonings. The result has consistently been. . . well, good. But not great.

Recently, armed with my new chile pepper know-how, I set out to tackle this problem. Here's what I came up with ~ a recipe that I am very pleased with. I started with a handful of Anaheim chile peppers for some very subtle heat. (Add more or different peppers to taste.)

I used both a food processor and a slow-cooker to minimize the hands-on time. In the end I preferred using the processed veggies over hand-cutting them because they were small enough to melt into the soup base. It made for a smoother, creamier soup.

Here was the result ~ dark and mysterious, as promised!

Black Bean Soup
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 3 Anaheim chile peppers
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 pound black beans, sorted and rinsed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 15 oz. can Mexican recipe tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 5 cups hot water
  • Half a lime, juiced
Use the food processor to chop the onion, bell peppers, and chile peppers into a fine dice. Do this in two or more batches to avoid overfilling your processor. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Briefly saute the veggies until starting to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, and thyme, then saute one minute more. Transfer the veggies to a 6-quart slow cooker. Add beans, bay leaves, tomatoes, salt, black pepper, and hot water.

Cook on high for approximately 5 hours. Stir in the lime juice and add additional salt to taste. (I added another 1/2 tsp.) Using an immersion blender, blend the soup slightly to add creaminess, but leave some whole beans intact.

Serve with toppings such as: sour cream, diced onions, cheese, tomatoes, diced jalapenos, or hard-boiled egg.

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