Spicy Bean Soup

Ingredients:

1 cup dried black beans, soaked overnight and drained [If you have never done this a cup does not seem like much, until the next morning, LOTSA beans]
1 cup dried kidney beans, soaked overnight and drained [see above note]
2 Bay Leaves
2 Tablespoons olive or vegetable oil [I used EVOO]
3 carrots, chopped [I used the mini carrots that are already skinned, since I needed 3 big ones I used 9 mini ones, figured it was okay math, stop laughing]
1 onion, chopped [I used a medium-sized one]
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed [don’t worry about chopping it up, you will see why on step 6]
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper [I used 1/4 for this batch, but I can see adding the rest in if you want the soup to have more kick]
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano [I am not a fan of oregano so I only used 1/4 teaspoon]
1/4 red wine [unlike many other recipes where the taste of the wine disappears, that is not the case here, so pick your red wine carefully.  I chose a nice Cabernet Sauvignon]
5 cups beef stock [most store-bought containers of stock come in quart size, which is only four cups, so I used a bouillon cube to make up the last cup I was missing.  I really didn’t want to add the salt of the cube but I had no choice as I did not have enough stock]
1 cup of water
salt and pepper to taste [I did not add any salt or pepper; but please see notes at the end]

GARNISH
sour cream [totally completes it, do not leave it off]
chopped fresh cilantro [I am not sure I liked it on the top but I did try it on the dollop of sour cream]

1.  Put the black beans and the kidney beans in two separate pans with enough cold water to cover and a bay leaf in each.  Boil rapidly for 10-15 minutes. [don’t skimp on the time, the beans must be cooked completely through before step six or you will have really lumpy and inedible soup]

2. Reduce the heat and cover the pans.  Simmer for ONE hour until the beans are tender, then drain. [If you soaked the beans correctly overnight, you may not need the entire hour of cooking time.  My beans were tender after 30 minutes.  I used them then worrying about overcooking them and having a runny mess]

3.  Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole.  Add the carrots, onion, celery, and garlic and cook over low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring until soft.  Stir in the cumin, cayenne, oregano.  [do NOT let the veggies burn on the bottom of the pot, it will completely edit the flavor and taste of your soup]

4.  Add the wine, stock and water and stir to mix all the ingredients together.  Remove the bay leaves from the cooked beans and add the beans to the casserole.

5.  Bring to a boil.  Lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  [make sure to check on the temperature; too hot and soup will burn to the bottom or lump together]

6.  Transfer half the soup, including most of the solids to a food processor or blender.  Process until smooth.  Return to the pan and stir well.  [I processed all of the solids and very little of the liquid. I couldn’t understand why any of the solids would want to be left.  The pictures of the soup in the book show a smooth and even soup, no solids peeking out]

7.  Reheat the soup, adjust the seasoning to taste.  Serve hot, garnished with sour cream and chopped cilantro.[I added the sour cream but left the cilantro off]

NOTES:  This is a hearty soup.  It is filled with fiber and protein. After trying it myself and having others eat a portion as well ‘we’ feel it is necessary to use salt and pepper to season the soup to your liking.  The soup is bland without the added kick of the salt, it tastes wonderful (I know, sounds like an oxymoron) but bland.

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