Black Bean Soup with Roasted Poblanos and Pickled Red Onions
Black bean soups have always held an import location on the map of South American Latin soul food, but are hugely popular in North America. A black bean soup with Mexican flavors, in particular roasted poblano peppers and a topping of avocado and pickled red onions, seems a perfect change of clothes for this staple of Venezuela, Cuba and Brazil. As with any soup, especially bean soups, the flavor develops when given lots of time to rest so consider making on a Sunday evening to start your week right with hearty lunches of bean soup.
For the Mexican chile powder, you can use either on of the commonly found blends or a single-source chile powder such as Ancho or Piquin.
1 pound dried black beans
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt
6 cups water
1 pound poblano peppers (about 3 large peppers)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Mexican chile powder or smoked paprika
1 cup diced plum tomatoes
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon lime juice
Pickled Red Onions
Cashew Yogurt Sauce or Purchased Vegan Sour Cream
1. Spread black beans on a tabletop and pick over them for small stones and other debris. Place in a large bowl and cover with at least 5 inches of water and let soak for 8 hours or overnight. Drain beans, rinse and place in a large soup pot along with the water, salt and bay leaves. Cover and bring to a rolling boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low. Partially cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until beans are very tender.
2. Meanwhile, roast whole, unsliced poblano peppers either in a cast iron pan over high heat or place directly onto gas burners. Use long handled metal tongs to frequently turn peppers until the skins are blackened and charred, then immediately place peppers in a tightly sealed plastic container or even wrapped up in a paper bag. Let the pepper cool enough to handle, then pull away the charred skin and remove the core and the seeds. Chop peppers into very thin strips. Fry the onion and garlic with the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat until the onion is translucent and soft. Add the onion and garlic, chopped peppers, tomatoes, oregano and cumin to the soup and bring to a gently boil. Reduce heat, partially cover and cook for another 30 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in lime juice. Let soup stand for 15 minutes before ladling servings into large bowls and top with pickled onions, diced avocado and a drizzle of Cashew Yogurt or a dollop of vegan sour cream if that’s how you roll.
For a faster soup, use canned black beans. Three 14 ounce cans of black beans are enough for the soup. Since the beans are already cooked there’s no need to cook them separately. You’ll also want to cut back on the total salt depending on how salty the canned beans are; start with 1 teaspoon and build up if necessary by tasting the soup at the end.
Fry the garlic and onions in the soup pot and add the beans along with the roasted peppers, tomatoes, spices, bay leaves and water. Simmer for 45 minutes, add salt and lime juice to taste.