Black bean soup

A gchat I received this morning:
Urvesh: oh! btw
any chance i could get your black bean soup recipe?

This past December, Urvesh (one of my best friends from college) returned home to Boston for the holidays the night before I left for California (my home), giving us a brief <24 hour “ReTROONion” (the significance of Troon: long story that is only funny to us and mayyybe Vivek).  I had planned on an elaborate dinner for his return, but laziness (c’mon, I had planned an event that attracted 1500+ guests just a few days before) and some continued craziness resulted in the very elaborate entree of….leftover black bean soup.  In my defense, I did fulfill requests for both hummus and cookies (oatmeal raisin AND chocolate chip), and even that was a struggle!

Anyway, as evidenced by the gchat request, it didn’t matter that the soup was a leftover because this black bean soup is awesome.  In general, I love soups because they age beautifully as the flavors meld and become more pronounced, which is optimal when you’re cooking for one or can’t cook every night.  As much as I wish I could claim this is my recipe, it’s from Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook, one of my favorite cookbooks (I’m not vegan, but I enjoy experimenting with vegan cooking.  Also, this cookbook is great for basic prep tips).  Without further ado, here’s the recipe:

Black bean soup
Serves 6-8
not even adapted from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero’s Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook

1 pound dried black beans, soaked for 6 to 8 hours or overnight
6 cups water
2 bay leaves
Pinch of baking soda

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, diced finely
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced finely
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 stalk celery, diced finely
1 carrot, peeled and diced finely
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon white whine vinegar or sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3-4 cups vegetable stock

First, prepare the beans: drain and rinse soaked beans, then place beans in a very large pot with 6 cups of water, bay leaves, and baking soda.  Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer until beans are very tender (~60-90 minutes).  Remove bay leaves.

Prepare the vegetables (can be done while beans are cooking): saute the garlic in olive oil until the garlic starts to sizzle, then add the onions and bell pepper.  Stir and cook until softened, then add the jalapeno, celery, and carrot and cook until softened.

When beans are completely tender, stir in the sauteed vegetables, cumin, oregano, thyme, and vegetable stock.  Cover and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer with pot partially covered until carrot and celery are tender (~35-40 minutes).

Remove from the heat, cool for 10 minutes, add the vinegar, season with salt and pepper.  Serve with avocado slices (my favorite!), chopped cilantro, or lime wedges.

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