Please share black bean soup recipes!
April 12, 2004 4:28 PM   Subscribe

In the Curley household we have come to be interested in soups, especially the soups with black beans, but we are vaguely dissatisfied with our current recipe. Please share your favorite recipes for delicious black bean soup. Google will provide recipes, but semi-strangers are more trustworthy than complete strangers. (No more inside until someone replies.)
posted by Mayor Curley to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have a few soups that I like a lot, many of which are variants on this generic soup recipe that my pal Ari sent me. I think the trick to black bean soup is a lot more salt than you think you'll need, adding tomatoes last if you add them at all, cooking a hefty lump of some kind of pork in there, lime juice. This is a rough outline of what I like...

- soak beans overnight
- cook black beans in a pot of water, beef/pork bullion & ham hock/salt pork/whetever
- sautee one green bell pepper, one onion, several celery stalks, 1-2 cloves garlic in 2 T olive oil, add to pot
- season with red pepper flakes, parsley, bay leaves, thyme and oregano
- add lime juice to taste
- cook for an hour or two, adding water of it gets too low
- add some tomato juice towards the end, not much, few T
- add more salt than you think it needs

serve with cilantro and sour cream and crusty bread
posted by jessamyn at 4:40 PM on April 12, 2004

We've had many great batches that start with variations on this. Omit the carrot, add a little more garlic, and season it with cumin and chilies, etc.

It's a little time-consuming to roast the vegetables first, but you can chill the puree and finish it later.
posted by ulotrichous at 6:46 PM on April 12, 2004

Best answer: IMO, the garnishes are almost as important as the recipe. Have salsa, sour cream, limes, etc, on hand to add a burst of freshness just before eating.
posted by o2b at 6:56 PM on April 12, 2004

I second the fact that you need a lot more salt than you think you'll need. Also, I know we've had the salt discussion...but I swear to you, kosher salt is better in soups. I dunno why...but it is.

Anyway, I use this vegetable stock as the basis for my black bean soup. I add the black beans, smoked corn kernels and a little cumin and coriander - garnish the soup with coriander leaves and highfat plain yoghurt. A treat for all the vegetarian buddies. :) (If you're meat eaters, ham bones add a really nice flavor.)
posted by dejah420 at 7:13 PM on April 12, 2004

You may want to consider the book Twelve Months of Monastery Soups, to put you at one with the culinary universe.
posted by weston at 8:13 PM on April 12, 2004

bean soaking.. very important step from a nutrition standpoint. Beans contain anti-nutrients (beans dont like to be eaten) and soaking with an agent breaks those anti-nutrients down. Native traditional cultures the world over soak beans. Soak the beans overnight with somthing that will ferment such as whey (the clear liquid the rises to the top of yoghurt). Lime juice may also work not sure. It's a very traditional way of preparing beans.
posted by stbalbach at 10:38 PM on April 12, 2004

I second (or third) the bean soaking. stbalbach's point is important - many plants have antinutrients. Maybe most ? - I'm not sure I'd go that far, but antinutrients are very common. Soy has antinutrients and also a way of folding it's proteins that hinders their digestion.

I usually put some sort of grain/s in my legume soups. These add complimentary amino acids which enable one's body to extract far more of the legume protein. This, in turn, improves digestion of the soup. And, a dollop of cheese in one's ensouped bowl increases protein absorption still more and bumps the effective protein ratios up to levels which, I foggily recall, are surprisingly high - perhaps as high as some meat and fish. I could be wrong on that though.

I like adding barley. Also, celery, cumin, garlic, hot peppers, olive oil, various herbs already mentioned.....sweet potatoes can be nice (add them later on or they'll turn to mush).
posted by troutfishing at 6:16 AM on April 13, 2004

Oh yes - spinach or other similar greens are wonderful in black bean soups. Did I mention onions ?

And - silly fool that I am - I forgot fresh Cilantro ! Add it towards the very end, with low heat.

That's a crucial point too - after you've cooked the beans, (and barley, if you've added that) reduce the heat to the very lowest simmer your stove is capable of. High heat tends to kill nutrients and vitamins, and it obliterates subtle flavors.
posted by troutfishing at 6:20 AM on April 13, 2004

We live on this throughout the winter. However, instead of the smokey sausage, we use a spicy green chile chicken/turkey sausage for some kick to complement the cumin and lime. So very tasty and ridiculously easy to make.
posted by shinyj at 7:04 AM on April 13, 2004

This one looks pretty good (not for vegetarians, though, as it uses chicken stock and ham), and seems to be related to the celebrated black bean soup served at Atticus in New Haven.

Perhaps this is too obvious to mention, but: don't forget the garnish. Sour cream or creme fraiche is essential as a contrast to the slightly rough texture of the soup.
posted by verstegan at 7:32 AM on April 13, 2004 [1 favorite]

also not for vegetarians, but the biggest improvement i have made to my soup came about because of an entirely different idea. i was eating out for lunch too often and needed to save money (and my waistline). so my wife and i started making bulk meals to eat for lunch. one of the things we like is getting a small turkey every 1-2 months and roasting it. this lasts us quite a long time, as a meal, in sandwiches and finally a casserole just as we are getting tired of it.

but the important part with regard to the topic, is that you can make large quantites of delicious turkey stock afterwards. we freeze it, and now we always have fresh stock to cook soup with. it makes a big difference in the taste.
posted by lescour at 10:23 AM on April 13, 2004

i can highly recommend the vegetarian black bean chili recipe in Molly Katzen's Still Life With Menu - i make it all the time and everyone seems to love it.

one caveat: i use the recipe in the revised edition, as the one in the original edition is slightly different. also, the accompanying pineapple salsa and banana empenadas are great with the black bean chili.
posted by modge at 10:24 AM on April 13, 2004

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