September 8, 2010

Bowlful of Hugs

After being woken up by loud rain at 6AM and feeling the cool air as I was walking home from the gym this afternoon, I knew that today was the perfect day for soup. As many of you may know, soup is one of my favorite foods. I made it more often than normal during my summer in Florida, but now that it's more seasonally appropriate I feel even more inclined to bust out the crock pot and make batch after batch of soup. While I love Italian food and chocolate, I think that soup is my ultimate comfort food; it's a warm hug in a bowl.

I had all the ingredients to make something I haven't made before: black bean soup. In fact, the only black bean soup I've ever had is from Panera Bread, which is mouth rocking. I knew that mine probably wouldn't compare to Panera's, but I still set out to make something tasty. I even added a secret ingredient!

Black bean soup

- 1/2lb dried black beans (1 cup)
- 4 cups water

- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1 tbsp white or apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 large yellow onion or 1 large, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeno, minced
- 1 1/2 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 1/2 tbsp cilantro
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp unsweetened dark cocoa powder
- S&P, to taste

- The night before, soak beans in water. In the morning, drain and rinse the beans and set aside.
- Saute onion, pepper, garlic and jalapeno until translucent. Set aside.
- Add beans, stock, aromatics and remaining ingredients to a crock pot. Turn on high and cook for 4 hours, then turn it down to low and cook for an additional 2 hours or until serving.
- Option: half an hour before serving, transfer half of the soup into a blender and puree until smooth. Add the pureed soup back into the crock pot and stir to combine. This will thicken the soup and make it creamier, while still allowing for some texture.

Serves 4-6

Can you guess the "secret" ingredient? Cocoa powder! It added a richness to the soup without adding much flavor. It's one of those things that totally make a dish even though you can't really detect what it actually does (similar to bay leaves). I liked this soup a lot - it was comforting and smokey without being at all spicy. If you want it spicy, though, feel free to up the jalapeno or throw in a pinch of cayenne; I wanted it more smokey and aromatic.

I garnished mine with a dollop of soyogurt and tomatoes and feasted! I can't say it's exactly like Panera's, but it's still pretty darn tasty.

Random fact: My favorite flower is a sunflower. What's yours?


  1. I have never made a black bean soup. This sounds so good. One more soup to add to my list ;-) My favorite flower is a rose.

  2. I think you'd enjoy it. :) White roses are my second favorite, but I don't like red ones.

  3. I never would have thought to put chocolate in it - I can imagine how it would make it extra sultry though! (Can soup be sultry? I assume chocolate could make it...)

  4. Chocolate can indeed make anything sultry. ;)

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