Hot Soup for Cold Days

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Hello.

I’m back.

How are you?

Oh, I’m well. I’ve been very busy. A lot of people seem to enjoy being busy, wearing their in-demand-ness on their sleeves like some kind of badge of honour. Me, I don’t really enjoy being busy all that much. I tend to feel overwhelmed when the competing demands of living a normal life, with a job and friends and family and hobbies and a blog they’d like to maintain, for instance, all come to a head. Since I last wrote here, I’ve had a vacation to New York with my sister (more on that later, I hope), started helping to organize a conference that I’m very excited about, knit about a million (actual count: 5) of the billion (actual count: 14) Christmas gifts I plan to make for friends and family, none of which I can show anyone until after Christmas, and have spent too many, but also not enough, hours transforming my home from a crowded curiosity shop to a living space I’m proud to call my home. None of this has been bad, per se, but now that things are starting to quiet down a bit, I feel the itch to get caught up on my blogging. You may not have missed me, dear readers, but I’ve definitely missed you.

Unfortunately, what’s been lost in all this busy-ness is time in the kitchen. I really, really miss cooking and I’m anxious to get back to it in a more serious way. So, to get back in the swing of things, I’m going to share a recipe for an amazing black bean soup that I first made in the summer. It was too hot back then to even think about sharing a soup recipe with you (I’m crazy, but not that crazy), but this soup is blog worthy alright.  I’ve thought about it often since that first time I made it and I’ve been waiting for the right time to share it with you. That time, I suppose, is now.

Thanks to those of you who have been checking in. I’ll be back here again soon… I promise!

Sopa de Frijol (Black Bean Soup)

Adapted from Saveur

Serves 8

½ cup canola oil

8 oz. dried black beans, soaked overnight

½ tsp. dried oregano

½ tsp. ground cumin

4 cloves garlic, peeled

2 medium white onions, each cut in half

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 plum tomatoes, cored

4 cups chicken stock

¼ cup crema or sour cream, plus extra for garnish

1 lime, cut into wedges

Fried tortilla strips to garnish (I omitted these)

1. Heat ¼ cup oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add beans, oregano, cumin, 3 cloves garlic, 2 onion halves and 5 cups water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, covered and stirring occasionally, until beans are tender, about 2 hours. Remove from heat and purée with a hand blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and aside.

2. Arrange an oven rack close to broiler and heat broiler to high. Place remaining garlic, 1 onion half and the tomatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet and cook under the broiler until blackened all over, about 8 minutes for garlic and tomatoes and about 16 minutes for onion. Transfer to a food processor and purée until smooth.

3. Heat the remaining 1/4 cup of oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Finely chop the remaining onion half, add to the pot and cook until soft but not brown.  Add the tomato purée and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. Add the beans and stock and bring to a boil. Then, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes. Purée the soup until very smooth, then stir in crema and season with salt and pepper. To serve, divide soup among serving bowls and top with a dollop of crema and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

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