more flavor from the southwest

A few days ago — perhaps when the thermometer dipped below 20 degrees? — I began to crave over-sized bowls of soup served in giant mugs to be eaten while watching episode after episode of the Twilight Zone.  No, not Twilight, EP.   The  Twilight Zone.  (Spoiler alert: it was the Grim Reaper the whole time! No foolin’.)

But I digress.  The incessant cravings eventually sent me to the interwebs to seek out a soup that could help get me over this hump and make enough food for leftovers.  And — surprise, surprise — Smitten Kitchen delivered.

Deb has a bunch of different soup recipes on her site, but I zeroed in on to the least-healthy looking (and also the newest) one for black bean soup and toasted cumin seed.  And, as with the brisket, I was drawn to the  promise of “3 hours in a crock pot and you’ve made black bean ambrosia, soup of the Gods!”

Now, I’ve never made homemade black bean soup (all former creations have come from a can), and I’ve been told that beans can actually be difficult to cook.  I had no such issues, as Deb from SK promised.  Without pre-soaking or following any other bean cooking conventions, my black beans (with bell peppers and red onion) were soft — not mushy — after the 3 hours on high in the slow cooker.

Being the maverick that I am, after the 3 hours were up, I blended 4 cups of the bean mixture (instead of the suggested 2). I found that I had a bit more water left over with my beans at the end of the 3 hours than I think should have been there (I later read in the comments section that the beans should be covered by 2 inches of water — mine were covered a bit more than that).  So, I put the pureed beans into a separate container, used a slotted spoon to transfer the rest of the bean mixture from the crock pot into the container, and then stirred in the salt, lime juice, and pepper.

As with all SK recipes I’ve tried so far, the soup was great.  To top mine off, I added shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream mixed with a bit of cumin (in lieu of the toasted cumin crème fraîche, which sounded good but involved).  This is one of those recipes you’ll eat like it’s going out of style (i.e. at lightening speed), so try to slow yourself down and enjoy the creamy beans, the tang from the lime juice, and the sour cream/cumin topping as best you can.


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