Friday, February 17, 2012

Herbalicious Black Bean Soup

My family loves soups. Especially in the cold winter months, a bowl of warm soup is just what the heart desires, or should I say what the tummy desires! I love experimenting while cooking, and one of the safest bets to experiment is soups – after all what is soup but a hotch - potch of different ingredients left to cook and simmer. Basically, once you put all the stuff in the pot, it pretty much cooks itself!

Whenever I hear “black bean soup”, I usually associate it with Mexican or Cuban food. Well, this is my take on the black bean soup.

Preparation & Cooking:  45 minutes                       Serves:  4-5

Black beans – 1 can (15 oz. approx.)
Fire roasted diced tomatoes – 1 can (14 oz.)
Onion – 1 small (chopped)
Garlic – 2 cloves
Fresh mint leaves – a few sprigs
Fresh cilantro leaves – a handful
Fresh parsley leaves – to garnish
Roasted cumin powder – 1 teaspoon
Red chilli powder – ½ teaspoon
Turmeric – a pinch
Chipotle all-purpose seasoning - 1 teaspoon
Vegetable stock – 6 cups
Salt – to taste
Oil – 1 tablespoon

1.       Sauté the onions in 1 tablespoon oil until they turn translucent. Add finely chopped/grated garlic to it. I use a microplane grater/zester directly over the cooking pot.

2.       Add the cumin powder, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt and keep stirring until they mix well. Constant stirring will prevent the spices from burning.

3.       Now add the tomatoes and black beans and give it a good stir.

4.       Add the vegetable stock at this stage, bring it to a boil and then let it simmer on a low flame for about 25 minutes. Keep stirring occasionally to prevent burning.

5.       In the meantime, puree the mint and cilantro together with a little water.

6.       After about 25 minutes, add this puree along with the chipotle seasoning mix to the soup and let it cook for 10 more minutes.

7.       Now, I prefer my soup to be chunky, so I just use a potato masher directly in the pot to mash some of the beans and tomatoes to thicken the soup. But if you prefer your soups to be smooth, you could blend part or all of it (depending on the consistency that you desire) in a blender/food processor.

8.       Just before serving, ladle the soup into the serving bowl and garnish it with freshly chopped parsley.  

At the end of a cold day, a bowl of hot, spicy soup with some cheesy garlic bread is all I need!

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