The first time I ate (or remember eating!) Black Bean Soup, I wasn't terribly excited to do so. It was right after we had gotten married. Ken was tutoring a Japanese businessman in English and he asked us to join him for lunch at the Country Club. We were served Black Bean Soup and I remember how unappetizing it looked in my soup plate. It smelled wonderful, though, so we dug in. Two or three bites into this soup had me reaching hastily for my water glass … it was SPICY! I don't remember what else we ate and I'm sure it's because I couldn't taste anything after the soup!
I steered clear of Black Bean Soups for years after that , but a friend of mine gave me the original recipe for this one assuring me that it was wonderful. I've only changed a couple of things. Hardly noticeable. And I LOVE THIS SOUP. It is far from spicy although quite tasty. The layers of flavors are quite good. I'm sure you could add more cayenne and make it as hot as you like if spicy is your thing. (For the record, I don't mind a bit of spice, but I do want to be able to taste my food, too!)
This makes a lot of soup … plenty for the freezer!
Sauté 2 ounces of bacon (I love the peppered one!)
Then add in onions, celery, carrots, garlic, and cumin. It doesn't matter, really, how you chop the vegetables because you are going to put them in the food processor anyway. The smaller you chop them, the quicker they cook, though, so consider that in your preparation time.
Of course, being that I was quite busy today and didn't want to mess with the whole food processor and the fact that all those veggies and four cans of beans overrun my food processor and make a mess EACH.AND.EVERY.TIME I make this recipe (ergh!), I decided to use my immersion blender. If you don't have one of these babies, it's time to high-tail it to the store and get one!
I added some of the chicken broth in at this point as well, just to make the blending a little easier.
Then, chop the smoked ham (I used smoked pork chops –they are in the photo with the bacon—and you can buy them in the meat department with the other ham products), cilantro, lime juice, and some tomato paste along with the rest of the chicken broth.
Season with cayenne pepper and let it warm to serving temperature.
Serve it up with a bit more fresh cilantro and limes, if you wish and perhaps a hunk of crunchy bread. You'll enjoy one of the most pleasing bowls of Black Bean Soup you've ever eaten!