Black Bean Garden Soup

Black Bean Garden Soup 1

One of the best things about fall being here is that it is finally soup weather again! I love me a good soup!

Blazing sunlight and 90-degree temps didn’t stop me from making it here and there this summer. A need to use the chicken stock gleaned from the carcass of a spent rotisserie chicken was the impetus for the first draft of this Black Bean Garden Soup back in August. My fridge’s contents were fairly sparse that night, so I needed to create a recipe out of what was on hand. Happily, I had the chicken stock, onions, a few jalapeños, some black beans I’d cooked up, the last dregs of a jar of minced garlic, and a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes. I didn’t expect much from this cobbled-together soup, but man, did it turn out delicious!

What struck me upon first tasting this soup was how the chicken stock lent this wonderful smokiness that must’ve come from the way the rotisserie chicken had been seasoned. I so frequently use homemade vegetable stock that it was a lovely reminder of the virtues of meat-based stock.

By the way, If you’d like to make your own stock from the remains of a roast chicken, it’s quite easy. I don’t get all crazy-fancy with it; I throw the carcass of a bird I’ve recently enjoyed into a large pot of water, add whatever vegetable scraps I’ve collected and frozen (saved for such a purpose), and bring it all to a boil. Then I reduce it to a gently rolling simmer and let it sit for at least an hour. I strain the broth through a fine wire strainer and discard the rest. Amazing stock awaits!

What else is awesome about this Black Bean Garden Soup besides its smoky homemade stock? 1) its heat (spiciness is my JAM!); 2) its healthfulness! You can’t help but feel great when you are eating a soup full of veggies! And  3) its satiation level – a fancy way to say that it isn’t overly filling, as the thick, hearty soups I am partial to can be. In fact, the relative lightness of this soup makes it great for a seasonal-transition time such as fall, when temperatures are still somewhat warm and we haven’t yet progressed into full-blown comfort-food-cravings mode.

Another favorable trait of this Black Bean Garden Soup is that it can easily be made vegan if you substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock. Also worth mentioning: if you are not a fan of spicy food, please feel free to reduce or wholly eliminate the red pepper flakes. The jalapeños don’t lend much heat with the seeds removed, so you should find them unobjectionable.

Lastly, here is my usual note regarding dried beans, which are used in this recipe: if you are also going to use them, you’ll need to plan ahead. Soak the beans, covered by several inches of water, in a bowl for at least eight hours. Then drain and rinse them, add them to a large pot of boiling water, reduce to a gently rolling simmer, and let cook for at least 60 minutes. Then drain and rinse the beans again, and you’ll be good to go! If you’d prefer to use canned beans, one cup of dried black beans equals roughly 3 cups of cooked beans – or about two 15-ounce cans’ worth, drained.

Black Bean Garden Soup

-1 cup dried black beans

-1 tbs. grapeseed oil, or other oil with a high smoke-point

-1 medium onion, chopped

-2 jalapeños, seeds removed and diced

-3 medium tomatoes, chopped

-1 tbs. minced garlic (about three cloves’ worth)

-8 cups chicken stock

-1 tsp. salt

-1 tsp. black pepper

-1 tsp. red pepper flakes

Prepare beans according to paragraph preceding this recipe.

Coat the bottom of a large pot evenly with the grapeseed oil, then add the onion and jalapeños and let cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for five minutes. Then add the tomatoes and garlic and cook for an additional five minutes.

Next, add the stock, cooked beans, and spices. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to a gently rolling simmer and let cook for another 30 minutes. And you’re done! You have a lovely, spicy, veggie-infused black bean soup that you can top with garnishes such as tortilla strips and/or shredded cheese. This will make a good six to eight servings.

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