Black Bean Soup

Black beans–also known as “turtle beans,” for reasons I’ve not discovered–make just about the best bean soup there is. When making this, I try to avoid all the techniques I use for making red beans and rice and go for a totally different taste profile. So no ham, no up-front celery taste, no bay leaves, no smokiness. In their place I use a good fresh beef stock, some carrots, and spices that tend toward the Indian side (cumin and turmeric). As for the onions, I prefer them fresh and crisp on top of the soup. Some of this comes from the Latin American style of making black bean soup, but I wouldn’t call this a classic recipe in that style.

Black bean soup.

Black bean soup.

  • 1 lb. black beans
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 whole cloves (the spice)
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 quarts beef stock (optional; vegetable stock is also good, and even water is okay)
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs. ketchup
  • 1 Tbs. cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup tawny port or sherry
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 savory
  • 1/8 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp. coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 2 Tbs. Tabasco green pepper sauce
  • 6 sprigs cilantro leaves, chopped

1. Sort through the beans and rinse them. In a saucepan, bring a quart of water to a boil, then simmer the beans with the garlic, half of the onion, cloves, and carrots for about two hours. If you need to make beef stock, you can do that while the beans are simmering.

2. The best way to puree the beans is with a food mill, but a food processor also works. Use some of the beef stock to puree so the bean mixture doesn’t get dry.

3. Combine the bean puree with the beef stock and all the other ingredients except the remaining onions and the cilantro. Bring to a simmer for about a half hour at least. You can cook it longer to thicken it to a texture you like, and it will continue to taste better.

4. Adjust seasonings with salt and Tabasco and serve with chopped onions and cilantro. A little dollop of sour cream on top is also nice.

Serves six to eight.

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  1. Chef Shawn on January 29, 2016

    The black bean soup at the long gone El Patio in Kenner was really excellent. They closed in the mid ninety’s.