I love soup. Soup is comforting, healing, often healthy, hearty and, with the exception of consommé, relatively easy to make. I honestly think I could eat soup every day, even in the summer. This black bean soup is a favorite of my family. To me it is simple, subtle and nourishing and one I have made recently while in lockdown.
The word “soup” comes from French word “soupe” meaning “broth“. Which comes by way of the Latin word “suppa”, meaning “bread soaked in broth” and from from a Germanic source, from which also comes the word “sop“–well, now we know why people sop bread when they eat soup.
Food historians tell us the history of soup is probably as old as the history of cooking and that evidence of the existence of soup can be found as far back as about 20,000 BC. In the U.S., the first colonial cookbook was published by William Parks in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1742, based on Eliza Smith’s The Compleat Housewife; (also known as the Accomplished Gentlewoman’s Companion) and it included several recipes for soups and bisques.
Making soup is one of the first things I do when my boys get sick, well, maybe second, buying disinfectant wipes typically comes first. When illness rolls round, my older son prefers matzo ball soup, my younger one, classic chicken noodle. But when I make my black bean soup on other nights, they both enjoy it.
Soup, no matter what kind, or how you’re feeling when you eat it, is comforting. Just a single sip can be soothing and bring hope and reassures, even when you least expect it. And with all that is happening in our world today, I think comfort is something we all crave right now.
My black bean soup is made with dried beans but does not require pre-soaking. It is also partially a blended soup, meaning it is cooked and then pureed. This soup can easily be made with either vegetable or chicken stock depending on your preferences. Top with yellow rice, fresh soft queso fresco, onion and chives, and you have a high-protein, rather well-balanced meal in a single bowl.
You can easily substitute the dried beans for canned black beans (something many of you may have stocked up on). If using canned, simply reduce your cook time to 20 minutes and proceed with the recipe as written. I’m thinking about everyone around the world right now wishing good health and peace to all.
Black Bean Soup
- 1 pound black turtle beans, rinsed and picked over to remove debris
- 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup celery, diced
- 1 cup carrots, diced
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 jalapeño pepper, destemed and deseeded
- 4 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leafs
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock, divided
- 3 cups cold water
- 1 cup cooked yellow rice (optional for garnish)
- 1/2 cup queso fresco, crumbled, for garnish (optional)
- 1/2 yellow onion, sliced (for garnish)
- fresh chives, finely chopped (for garnish)
- Step 1 In a medium stock pot, add the olive oil and place over a medium-high flame. When hot, but not smoking, add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic and sauté till tender, about 5-10 minutes. Stir in the jalapeño and tomatoes. Add the cumin and cook for an additional 1 minute till fragrant. Add the thyme, bay leaf, pepper, salt, 3 cups of the stock, water and black beans. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour till the beans are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
- Step 2 Remove the thyme sprig and bay leaves and allow to cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, place 2/3 of the soup in a kitchen mixer, such as a Cuisinart filled with a blade attachment, and puree till smooth. Pour the pureed mixture back in with the rest of the non-pureed soup. Stir in the remaining 2 cups of stock. Place the soup back over medium heat and cook on low until heated through.
- Step 3 To serve, label the soup into serving bowls and garnish with queso fresco, yellow rice, onions and chives.