Blender Buddy Optional, But Recommended
September 17, 2008
Midway through making this soup, I thought about giving up: throwing in the towel and tipping the entire pot into the trash. Let me explain. First, I’m not crazy about black bean soup to begin with. I always get the feeling I’m spooning something that is meant to be scooped up with a salty tortilla chip. Something made for dunking, not slurping. But I found a recipe that looked hopeful (because (a) it included chipotle chili powder, which I happen to adore, and (b) it included canned tomatoes, which promised to remove the soup from the chips-n-dip category, and (c) called for bacon, which is all I will say about that) and took a chance.
And, then, halfway through, the pot looked like chili. Identical, in fact, to the chili I made while we were in Canada. And while that chili was very good, if I’d wanted chili, I would’ve made chili. And I got to thinking that a ruined dinner, or even just a so-so dinner, was no way to start a week—which is always how I feel about Sunday night: on the verge of a brand new week, with no idea how exactly it will unfold.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
Rather miffed with the soup and in a very I-can-still-save-the-week-if-only-we-just-order-pizza mood, I thought about scrapping it. But then, Kevin—who I kindly spared this lengthy inner monologue (sorry, dear readers, that I have not done the same for you)—mosied into the kitchen and asked if it was time to blend the soup. But what he was really asking was if he could blend the soup. I could see it in his eyes.
Not wanting to rob him of that simple pleasure (really, there are few toys in the kitchen more fun than the blender, no?), I decided to give the soup one last chance. We’d blend it up and then judge. You should also know that in this time, my standards for the soup had ratcheted up a few notches. I was not hopeful that the soup would survive the taste test.
Post-blend, the soup was looking much better. Very un-chili, and also thick and velvety, flecked with tiny specks of bean skins and slightly twinged with a deep red (from the tomatoes, I’m guessing). But, still, I was skeptical (see the opening paragraph above re: my general thoughts on black bean soup).
Post-taste-test, I was sold. Actually, sold doesn’t cover it. The soup—after only one spoonful—was a clear winner, a keeper. I’d even go so far as to deem it a humdinger. It was smoky with a spicy kick that sneaks up on you a bit, not to mention smooth and satisfying. The kind of soup that warms you up right down to your toes. But it’s apparently not for pessimists or quitters, no sir. You must approach this recipe with commitment and perseverance—and, if possible, a blender buddy.
Black-Bean Tomato Soup
Adapted from Cooking Light
2 center-cut bacon slices, chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion (about 1 small)
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can tomatoes, undrained
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth (or homemade)
Garnishes: sour cream, slivered scallions, lime wedges, cilantro leaves, tortilla chips
Cook bacon in a large saucepan over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon, reserving 1 teaspoon drippings in pan; set bacon aside.
Add onion and celery to pan; cook 5 minutes or until celery is tender. Stir in 2 teaspoons cumin, chile powder, and garlic; cook 1 minute. Stir in bacon, pepper, beans, tomatoes, and broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.
Place half of bean mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining bean mixture; process until smooth.
Serve with the garnishes.