Black bean and sweet potato soup

The original intention was to make a fairly standard black bean soup, but after digging around a few dozen recipes settled on this. It’s really, really tasty.

Ingredients

  • 2 19oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 med onion, diced fine
  • 1 med carrot, diced fine
  • 1 rib celery, diced fine
  • 1 med sweet potato, peeled and diced to 1/2″ or so
  • 1/2 tsp salt (and more to taste, later)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp (or so) chile powder
  • 3-4 c chicken or vegetable stock
  • Juice from 1-2 limes

Method

Put oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add onions, carrots, celery, sweet potato, and 1/2 tsp salt. Saute, stirring frequently, for 10-15 mins or so. As the sweet potato gets soft, brown bits will start sticking to the bottom of the pot. That’s fine. By the time I finished this part there was a good thick coating of browned stuff on the bottom.

When sweet potato is mashably soft, turn the heat down to medium-low and use a potato masher to turn it all into a nice chunky puree right there in the pot. Add garlic, cumin, and chili powder and continue cooking for two or three minutes, stirring. Pour a cup or two of the chicken stock in and let that heat for a minute or two to loosen up the brown stuff that’s stuck to the bottom of the pot, then scrape all that up into the soup (brown stuff = flavour, it’s tasty stuff).

Add the beans and enough of the remaining chicken stock to cover, then stir well to combine. There should be enough liquid to make it soupy, but the mashed sweet potato should thicken it slightly. Turn heat up to high, bring soup to a boil, then turn down to low and simmer for 25-30 minutes or so.

After it’s simmered for a while, get the potato masher and mash some of the beans in the pot. I probably mashed just over a third of the beans, stirring frequently to check the consistency. The mashed beans will thicken the soup, so just mash and stir until it’s thick, but still more a soup than bean puree. Continue simmering on low for another 5 or 10 minutes.

When ready to serve, squeeze in the juice from one or two limes. The potato adds a level of sweetness that you’re looking to counteract here a little. I ended up using the juice of 1.5 limes. Just add the juice a half-lime at a time and continue tasting and adjusting until it’s nice and bright without being too powerfully citrusy. Taste again then add salt if needed. I had to add about another 1/3 to 1/2 tsp of salt at this point.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a few gratings of fresh ground pepper on top, and sharp cheddar cheese and tortilla chips on the side.

Notes

Next time I make this I will probably increase the cumin and chili powder by a full tsp each, maybe using a blend of regular chili powder and chipotle chili powder. The nice smokiness would work well here, I think.

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