Whenever I go to Panera Bread I always get their black bean soup. Well, what I really want to get is the broccoli cheese soup, but this is my compromise. I know that the broccoli cheese soup isn’t that great for you and since the sandwich I get is usually super cheesy itself, I try to balance things out by getting the black bean soup. Haha but aside from that logic, I really am a fan of their black bean soup. I’ve been searching for a recipe that was similar. I finally found one.
It’s nice and thick, deliciously spiced and the beans are beautifully tender. I feel like sometimes dried beans don’t cook completely in bean soups. This soup simmers for such a long time that the beans come out creamy and soft. Exactly how I like them.
You want to start off the night before you make this by brining your beans. This is a Cooks Illustrated trick. They stir 1 Tb salt into a 2 quart bowl of water and pour in the dried beans. Let the beans soak overnight and drain and rinse in the morning. This little trick seasons the beans and gives them a head start cooking.
This soup is based off of red onions and green and red peppers. I believe it only calls for 1 of each pepper but I think I might have added two red peppers because I had an extra one laying around without any purpose. So, feel free to adjust the recipe a bit in such circumstances.
The spice and seasoning of this soup comes from cumin, garlic and chipotle chiles. When you work with minced chipotle chiles in adobo you have to be very careful to scrape out the seeds. Not only is that where the heat comes from but sometimes they end up just being these hard bits in your soup and it’s unpleasant… Cumin plays a large part in the soup. This recipe actually includes a complementing recipe for toasted cumin seed creme for a topping. This is completely optional. It was very good though. The cool creaminess contrasts the warm soup perfectly and the cumin flavor complements it beautifully. The recipe asks for creme fraiche to make this. Sour cream is an equally good substitute.
I ended up simmering my soup for a bit longer than the recipe calls for because I like mine to be on the thicker side. It’s just a preference. Use your own judgement with that.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 medium red onions, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 (16 oz) package dried black beans
- 1 tablespoon chopped chipotle chiles in adobo
- 7 cups water
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 teaspoons salt
- For Topping
- 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
- 1 cup crema, crème fraîche, or sour cream
- salt and pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- The night before, soak dried beans in 2 quarts of water with 1 Tb salt. Rinse before use the next day.
- Heat olive oil in dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and bell peppers and sauté until tender and beginning to brown, around eight minutes. Add garlic and cumin; stir until garlic becomes fragrant, about one minute. Add chipotle, water, and beans. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until beans are very tender, about 3 hours.
- Transfer two cups bean mixture to blender; puree until smooth. Return puree to remaining soup in slow cooker. Alternately, use an immersion blender. Stir in lime juice, salt, and pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste
- FOR TOPPING: Toast cumin in a small sauté pan over medium heat until lightly golden brown. Place in spice grinder or mortar and pestle and grind until coarse. Stir it into the creme and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Dollop onto warm bowls of soup.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen