Other things that you might want to have on hand to add, if you are so inclined: Salsa, Cayenne Pepper, Sour Cream, Smoked Sausage, and Cilantro. Now, when I make soup, I generally go straight to my enameled cast-iron Dutch Oven. I have always wanted a kitchen full of Le Creuset pots and pans, but I have not won the lottery lately, and I have bills to consider (mortgage, vehicle payments, insurance, and other trifling expenses) that prevent me from spending upwards of $300 on a pan for my kitchen. I highly recommend the substitute below. It is a Lodge 6-Quart Enameled Dutch Oven, and it is fabulous. It cooks everything perfectly, cleans up like a dream, and was a super-steal at only $50. Which saves my family and I a metric ton of money, and that is always a delightful thing.
Warm and Spicy Black Bean Soup
- 1 med. yellow onion – finely chopped
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 1 small can chopped green chiles
- 2 tsp. Cumin
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
- 3 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 32 oz. container vegetable stock
- 1 14 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
- 1/2 – 1 c. fresh salsa
- 1 lb. diced smoked sausage
- So warm up a couple of tablespoons of canola oil in your dutch oven, and finely chop a medium onion. Don’t worry too much about how fine your dice is, you will be pureeing the soup later which allows for some leeway in how fussy you need to be in your food prep. Saute the onion over medium-low heat until it is fragrant and translucent, which will take between five and ten minutes.
- Add one can of chopped green chiles, and a heaping teaspoon of minced garlic. I highly recommend the garlic in a jar that you find in the produce section of your local supermarket. Heaven knows there are plenty of recipes that demand fresh garlic, but the garlic in a jar does just fine for general purposes, and you have the bonus of not smelling like an Italian market for days afterward.Add two teaspoons of cumin, and for the daring and spice-loving among you; now would be a great time to toss in a pinch of cayenne pepper to jazz things up a bit. Remember to be cautious with the hot stuff though. You can always add more seasoning, but you can’t take it out once it’s in there, and when your kids are have steam coming out of their ears and singed tongues, crying “Why, Mommy, Why?” you will feel bad. Trust me on this. An unfortunate encounter between a teeny-tiny, easily overlooked Chile Pepin and my seven year old recently still makes me cringe when I think about it.
- Give the onions, chiles, garlic, and spices a good stir together. The oil will allow the spices to bloom, so give them a moment or two to cook before you add any other ingredients.Take three cans of black beans and put them in a strainer, or colander. Rinse them thoroughly to get rid of the starchy liquid they are packed in, and add them to the other ingredients in the dutch oven. The heat should still be on medium low at this point
- Add your vegetable stock. You will need one 32 oz. carton of whatever your favorite brand is.
- Next, add one can of petite diced tomatoes, and stir to combine. Turn the heat up to medium and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about ten minutes.
- Now my children think that chunks of tomato in almost anything, but particularly in soups are the work of the Devil. So to head off any screeching and whining at the pass and because I certainly don’t want Old Scratch gaining a foothold in my house, I puree the soup. If you prefer a soup that has more broth-like consistency, then you can skip the next step, but more on that later. For now, let’s talk about the perfect side-dish for this recipe. Sweet, crumbly, warm cornbread.
- If time and ambition allow for it, by all means make your cornbread from scratch. If you are looking for something a little quicker, the Jiffy brand mixes are top-notch. They could not be easier to use. You just need an egg, and 1/3 cup milk per box. I use at least two boxes, because my kids eat it like crazy. So mix it up and pour the batter into a prepared baking pan. Bake it in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes until it is golden-brown.
- At this point, you can puree your soup. I use a stick blender, which works beautifully. You can also use a standard blender or a food processor and do it in batches if that’s what you have.
- Just for fun, I usually add anywhere from 1/2 cup to a cup of fresh salsa, depending on how hot it is.
Now the soup is ready to go. A healthy, vegetarian (vegan, actually) delightful warm, hearty soup that will delight anyone who comes across it. Serve it up and enjoy a great, heart-smart meal. Unless…..
Unless, you want to throw a whole bunch of smoked sausage in there! Which transforms this healthy, heart-smart, vegan meal into a carnivore’s delight. Seriously, I think the smoked sausage adds another level of flavor and depth to the soup. But you be the judge. If you are going to go for it, take a pound of smoked sausage , and dice it into bite-sized pieces. Vegetarians, avert thine eyes. Now, let it simmer for fifteen or twenty minutes, while you putter around the kitchen. Throw some dirty dishes in the dishwasher, make your kids finish up their homework, or play a quick round of Guitar Hero, whatever floats your boat. Don’t forget to take the cornbread out of the oven, it’s just about ready! Ladle some soup into a bowl, and top with some sour cream, if you are feeling decadent.
Once again, and really, I can’t stress this enough. Don’t forget the cornbread. I highly recommend slathering it with butter, but maybe that’s just me. Enjoy!