Okay, Thanksgiving’s over and, for a short time at least, it’s back to normal food. It’s also cold and the meteorologists are threatening the first significant snow fall this weekend (as they so love to do: “Doom! Gloom! You heard it here first!”), so, it’s time for yummy, stick-to-your-ribs, warms-you-down-to-your-socks soup. The kind that’s so good you just dread hitting the bottom of the bowl.
One of my missions this winter was to come up with a really, really good Cuban black bean soup to go with this completely awesome Cubano sandwich (complete with homemade bread – oh, so good) I discovered this past summer. In my research of authentic ingredients, I reviewed a lot of plain ole black bean soup recipes, but one in particular caught my eye as being not-so-plain-ole. Probably because the first ingredient is bacon. (Mmmmm … bacon ….) As I scanned the rest of the recipe, I stopped at “Worcestershire sauce” and hit the print button. It’s not Cuban (I’m still on the prowl for that), but ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner anyway ….
The flavors in this soup are almost BBQ-ish: bacon (a.k.a, pork), ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder (a.k.a. ribs sauce), which is probably why it’s so damn good. This will be the second time I’ve prepared this recipe, and I can tell you that the leftovers are simply amazing (most soups benefit from an overnight rest to let their flavors fully blend – this soup is no exception). I brought a bowl to the office the next day, and what was supposed to be a “working lunch” (gotta love those) turned out to be me huddled over my Gladware container in a this-is-the-best-lunch-ever dreamy daze.
Make extra. You won’t regret it.
Ahhhh, my favorite part of the soupmaking process: sauteeing the aromatics. And this time, with bacon.
I broke down and bought a garlic press a couple of weeks ago (left). The jury’s still out on this model (by Prepara), which claims to be able to handle up to 6 cloves at once. It does a fantastic job of pressing the garlic, but, it jams every single time. One thing I do love is the 1 cup servings of Pacific brand organic chicken stock (right). They come in a four pack and are extremely handy (and much, much better quality than canned).
An immersion blender (shown in action on the right) makes quick work of creating the perfect combination of smooth puree and chunks of beans. This model is from KitchenAid, and I love it.
Almost ready now. Just adding the cilantro, a flavor I really love in some soups. (Note: the recipe also calls for fresh lime juice, but next time, I’m leaving it out. I can taste it in the soup, and I found it distracting – almost clashing with the other flavors.)
Black Bean Soup
Dave Lieberman, Foodnetwork.com
10 slices bacon, finely chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, pressed1 can (14 1/2-ounce) reduced-sodium chicken broth (note: I used 2 of the 1-cup containers of Pacific chicken broth)
1-1/2 cups canned chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
4 cans black beans (15 1/2-ounce), drained but not rinsed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper1 bunch cilantro
juice of 1/2 lime
Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish
Sour cream, for garnish
Grated cheddar, for garnish
Put the bacon into a large heavy pot and place it over medium heat. Cook until it starts to give up its fat, about 4 minutes. Stir in the onions and cook, stirring, until they start to turn translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until you can smell it, about 1 minute. Add the broth, tomatoes, ketchup, Worcestershire, and chili powder. Stir in the beans, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the soup is bubbling gently and cook 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, pick off all the thick stems from the cilantro. Wash it and shake dry. Chop the cilantro coarsely and stir it into the soup when it has been simmering 10 minutes. cook until the soup is thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lime juice. Serve with the garnishes.