01.02.10: dinner (spicy black bean soup with a Spanish twist).


Spicy Black Bean Soup

Oh January, we meet again.


Now that the holidays are over, New York has a tendency to descend into its winter-long hibernation. No one wants to do anything because it’s either snowing, has snowed or is just too damn cold outside, so you can either pull on the Hunter boots and see what’s shaking at the local watering holes a block or two away, or you only venture out to collect provisions from Fairway and the local wine shop and cocoon in your apartment. It’s the perfect excuse to spend the morning flipping through cookbooks, particularly new ones acquired during the holidays, looking for that perfect project to warm up the apartment…but there is also the temptation to want to indulge in comfort foods because it is so cold outside.

Spicy Black Bean Soup



While I’m all for succumbing to temptation (December’s below-average temperatures certainly urged our inclination to braise anything that came in our way), there is something to be said for injecting warm-but-lighter meals into the mix as the new year starts. Having worked in several food categories that do a lot of promotion during this time of year, I’m probably even more tired than all of you in seeing all of the resolutions-themed ads and content out there that’s meant to shame us all for daring to indulge at the end of last year. So I present this dish to you as a compromise of sorts: it’s spicy, it’s vegetarian-friendly, and it involves my favorite soup ingredient: wine. A cup of red wine will add body to any vegetarian soup out there, and it’s a lot more interesting than only relying on 3 cups of water to create your soup’s broth.

I also wanted to up the spice content to help clear out the sinuses, so when I poured that cup of Temperanillo I also grabbed my pimentón de la vera to add a smoky element to the party. I was worried that it wouldn’t come through considering the use of cumin and chile powder, but I could definitely taste it off of the back of my tongue. Even Michael, who was sidelined on the couch after catching the bug I had on New Year’s, said that the soup was delicious and could eat a bowl of it–and he wasn’t eating much of anything that day.

Just be sure to finish it with a generous squeeze of lime juice to add the perfect balance of spice and acidity, and you have a bowl of comfort that also helps you feel a little bit virtuous.

Spicy Black Bean Soup

adapted from Gourmet

serves 4 as a first course, or 2 very hungry people on its own.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 fresh jalapeño chile, chopped (seeded if you want to lower the heat)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon pimentón de la vera
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 15.5 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, minced
  • Lime wedges
  • Kosher salt

Over medium heat, heat the oil in a heavy pot and add the onion, garlic, chile, cumin, chili powder, oregano, paprika and a few pinches of salt and saute until they have started to brown, about 6 or 7 minutes. Add the beans, wine, water and bay leaf and bring to a simmer for 15 minutes, letting it reduce slightly. Remove the bay leaf and discard.

Add about 2 cups of soup to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth, using caution when handling hot liquids. Return the puree to the soup and heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes, adding more salt to taste. Ladle into bowls, garnish with cliantro and lime juice and serve immediately.

  1. Tracy said:

    All I can say is Mmmmm.

  2. Oh wowwww

    I know what I am having for dinner. That looks SO GOOD!

    • (I actually got around to making it tonight, only I has kidney beans instead of black ones and white wine instead of red, but it was tasty enough that I’m putting the proper ingredients on my shopping list! thanks!)

  3. I am perfectly content staying home and eating soup all winter. Yay for more soup posts! Oh, and I’ve been reading about pimenton de la vera everywhere! It’s like THE spice for 2011 (well, all 7 days of it thus far).

    • Really? It kind of pains me that I didn’t see that yet (given that I research food trends and all) but that’s good to know.

      And to quote a former client’s tagline, soup IS good food.

  4. Tanvi said:

    This is one of the best soups I have seen lately..Black beans-totally my thing!And glad enough I have all ingredients in hand.

  5. Jamie said:

    I’ve never had much luck with black bean soups but for a few times: both in making them and in eating them. They always sound so good but I wind up being mildly impressed at best. Then again, this recipe looks better than the ones I have used, so perhaps it’s worth another go…

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