Smokey Black Bean Soup
The deep red-brown of this soup makes it a color cousin to Mexican molé sauce. It makes a dramatic presentation when topped with tortilla strips, avocado chunks and Lime Cream. Chipotle chiles packed in adobo sauce are available in most large supermarkets. Any canned, diced tomatoes will work well, but the fire-roasted variety sends this soup over the top.
- In large pot, heat 1 Tbs. oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery and green pepper, and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, cumin and oregano, and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add beans and 6 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, until beans are tender, about 1 3/4 hours. Add 1 1/2 tsp. salt.
- With slotted spoon, transfer 1 cup beans to food processor or blender. Add tomatoes and chipotles, and process until smooth. Return mixture to pot. Stir in sherry, increase heat and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer about 15 minutes to reduce liquid.
- Meanwhile, in large nonstick skillet, heat remaining 1 Tbs. oil over medium heat. Add tortilla strips in batches, and toss frequently and gently (for best results, use tongs) to brown evenly, about 3 minutes. Adjust heat as necessary. Remove to paper towels to blot excess oil.
- Place tortilla strips, avocado and Lime Cream in separate small bowls. Serve soup hot with garnishes along side.
Variation: To make this soup in a pressure cooker, heat 1 Tbs. oil in pressure cooker. Add onion, celery and green pepper. Cook, stirring often, over medium-low heat until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, cumin and oregano, and cook another few minutes, until fragrant. Add beans and 4 cups water, and cover. Bring to a boil, lock lid into place, and bring to high pressure. Cook over high pressure 15 minutes. Turn off heat, and let beans return to pressure naturally. Remove lid, and add 1 1/2 tsp. salt. Proceed with Step 3, above.