She graciously unearthed the index card, handwritten copy of the recipe that I've been enjoying since middle school, and dictated it to me over the phone. I was surprised at how simple it was: 2 cans of black beans, water, a lime, and Jamaican jerk spice. That's it. Delicious. But I was scandalized. "Jamaican jerk spice?? What about cumin? Cilantro? Chili? At least an onion, right??" Nope. All the flavor comes from the jerk seasoning. What's in that, anyway?
I did just finish a series of FoodPrints lessons teaching 3rd graders to be avid readers of ingredient labels, after all. Yep, it was as I suspected: lots of salt. I could do better than this, I decided. Plus, it was awfully cold outside and I wanted to avoid a trip to the store to purchase my single missing ingredient. I would work with what I had around the kitchen.... The result was delicious (though it will never quite replace my mom's recipe and its plethora of fond memories).
Black Bean Soup (from scratch)
Makes 4-6 servings, depending on how hungry you are
- 2 cups dry black beans, soaked overnight, simmered until soft, then drained
(you can use 3-4 cans of beans, but they're pricier and less nutritious -- just sayin')*
- 6 cups vegetable stock (make your own!)
- olive oil
- 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
- 2 shallots, peeled and finely diced
- 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
- 1/2 - 1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeds removed then finely minced
- 1-2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1/4 tsp dried)
- a sprinkle (1/4 tsp?) cayenne
- a sprinkle of ground nutmeg
- a sprinkle of ground cinnamon
- a pinch or two of ground allspice
- 1-2 tsp tamari (or soy sauce, but I swear tamari is better)
- juice from 1 lime (2 TBSP, roughly)
- salt and black pepper, to taste
- plain greek yogurt (optional), for garnish
- fresh cilantro (optional), for garnish
- additional lime wedges, for garnish
- Heat a medium pot with a few glugs of olive oil, then stir in onions and cook over low heat until soft, stirring occasionally so things don't stick too much (5-10 minutes).
- Stir in the shallots, garlic, and jalapeno and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Turn up the heat as you stir in the cumin, thyme, cayenne, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and tamari,
- When these have sizzled for about a minute, stir in most of the beans (I set aside about 1/2 cup) and all of the broth. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Remove from heat, puree the soup, then stir in the remaining beans and the lime juice. Taste, then season with salt and pepper if needed.
- Serve hot with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of cilantro leaves, along with a lime wedge for folks to squeeze in just before eating. I also made some cheddar jalapeno corn muffins because, hey, what is black bean soup without cornbread?