Monday, March 24, 2014

Black Bean Soup Inspired by Simon

I have posted a recipe for black bean soup before ( but it is a bit different from this recipe. This recipe is smokier, spicier, and a bit richer in my opinion. Both are delicious. The inspiration for this soup came from my brother-in-law, Simon.

Simon, his lovely wife, and my beautiful niece live out of town so we don’t get to spend enough time with them. Whenever we visit them in their quaint little town, brother-in-law pulls out all the stops to make us delicious eats. One of his specialties is soup (he is the King’s brother after all), and my very favourite soup that he makes is black bean.

The problem with Simon, like many actual chefs, is that he doesn't write down his recipes. So every time he makes this soup it is slightly different - but it is always ridiculously delicious. Two visits ago, as he was making the soup, I hovered around the kitchen and wrote down a list of ingredients. I was not able to write down any amounts because he was halfway through the process when we arrived - but I have made some educated guesses for this recipe.

This weekend my cousin Emilie was visiting from Montreal (and before you ask, yes, she brought us 6 dozen Fairmont bagels and tzatiki from Arahova and she is welcome back any time). For her first night here we decided to make tacos because we are all big fans. We made the black bean tacos that are on this blog ( and they were amazing.

Saturday night the plan was to have Indian food (also delicious, recipes to follow later for Chettinad Chicken Curry and Mulligatawny Soup) and then Sunday was going to be leftover day. In the spirit of leftovers, and reinvention, I decided to turn the black bean taco medley into this soup. It was a good decision.

For this list of ingredients, I am going to pretend that we are starting from scratch (but now you know the secret - make tacos one day and turn them into soup the next).

Black Bean Soup

2 - 3 tbsp grapeseed oil (or an oil that can be heated to a high temp, not olive oil)
1 medium to large sweet onion, diced
1 shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 stalks celery, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1/2 large red pepper, sliced
1/2 large orange pepper, sliced
1 small zucchini, sliced
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed (14 oz each, or you can soak dry black beans if you prefer)
1 can diced tomatoes (28 oz, or fresh tomatoes if you prefer)

2 cups+ water or vegetable broth

1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried epazote
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika (or a touch more if you like)
salt and pepper
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tsp sambal olek (thai hot sauce)

To serve:

avocado, chopped into biggish chunks, or a few spoonfuls of guacamole
limes -juice and zest, at least one for in the soup, and some wedges 
chopped fresh cilantro
sour cream (optional)
cheddar cheese, grated (optional)

If you have these ingredients on hand, you can add some to the pot if you want to:

jalapeño (instead of the sambal olek)
rice (to thicken the soup)
yellow or green pepper
kidney beans (or other bean)


Start by heating the oil in a heavy soup pot. Sauté the onions for about 4 minutes on medium heat. Add the garlic and shallot and sauté for another minute, then add the celery and carrots and continue to cook for about 3 minutes. 

Then add the peppers and zucchini and all of the dried herbs (thyme, epazote, chilli, cumin, smoked paprika, salt, pepper). 

After about 3 minutes, add the beans. Stir for a minute and then add the tomatoes and broth or water, the sambal olek, 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, and the lime zest from 1 lime.

Bring to a boil and then simmer on low for about 1/2 hour or so. You don't want to overcook the veggies as they will lose flavour.

Remove from the heat and use a ladle to remove about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of the mixture. Set aside.

Puree the remaining soup using a hand blender. Once it is smooth and to your liking, squeeze in the juice of 1 - 2 limes. If you need to add more water at this point, go ahead. Make the consistency what you like it to be. Once you are happy, salt and pepper added to taste, consistency good - then add back in the 1 1/2 - 2 cups of mixture that you set aside. This way your soup is nice and smooth but also has some character with the bigger chunks of beans and veggies. See photo below.

To serve, ladle some soup into a bowl, top with chunks of avocado (or guacamole, as shown in photo below), cheddar, sour cream, fresh cilantro - one or all of these toppings. You can also serve with some lime wedges and tortilla chips (as crackers) if you like.

This soup is quite filling so if you are serving before a main course, just serve a small bowl. If you put it in the fridge overnight it will thicken and you will have to thin it out with broth or water before serving.

For a great guacamole recipe, click here:

Let me know how you like it!!

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