It's hard not to enjoy black bean soup. It's rich and dark, a perfect cold-weather recipe, and virtuous too--both calorically and financially. Black bean soup is a simple classic, and should therefore not be tweaked, added to, or substantially changed.
Or, instead, we could do all of those things! We could seek to improve black bean soup--nay, perfect it.
"Perfect it?!?!" you gasp. "But how?"
"With bacon," I say. "With bacon."
Yes, dear friends, dear readers: We can make our black bean soup with bacon. Then, we can play off the rich bacon with smoky chipotle and sweet garlic and let the soup slowly cook down into a thick, hearty stew. We can load up the toppings: sour cream to offset the smoke and heat; fried egg for protein; avocado for healthy fats and texture. Finally we can serve the whole mess with the afterthought of some greenery: a little chopped scallion to make it look as though we went to trouble (we didn't, of course; the whole thing was quite easy).
Et voilà--a delicious, dark, filling meal, served in a single bowl. (Recipe after the jump!)
Smoky Black Bean & Bacon Stew with Avocado and Fried Egg
- 8 oz. bacon diced (thick-cut is better for texture; smoked is better for flavor. Trim some of the fat if you wish, but not too much)
- 2 medium onions, diced medium
- 6 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 2 T. ketchup
- 2 T. Worcestershire sauce
- 2 t. ground chipotle peppers (increase if you want heat; at this level it's just smoke)
- 2 t. cumin
- 1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes (with juices)
- 2 29-oz. cans black beans (drained, NOT rinsed)
- 2 14.5-oz. cans chicken stock
- 1/2 t. salt (or to taste)
- 1 fried egg per person
- Avocado, scallions, and sour cream for serving
1) Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven (something with a lid) over medium heat. Then, toss in the bacon and cook until it releases its fat, about five minutes.
2) Add onions and cook with the bacon unil they're translucent (the onions, not the bacon), another five minutes. Add garlic and cook one minute, until very fragrant.
3) Add ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, chipotle, cumin, and tomatoes and cook thirty seconds until the mixture is simmering vigorously. Then, add the beans and broth. If the liquid does not reach just past the solid ingredients, top the mixture off with a little water.
4) Bring the stew to a boil, cover, then reduce to low and simmer for at least twenty minutes. Longer is better; the batch I made for this post I simmered an hour and a half.
5) Halfway through cooking, use the back of a wooden spoon to crush some of the black beans against the side wall of the pot, then stir (you're releasing some of the starches to assist in thickening the stew).
6) Ten to fifteen minutes before serving, remove the stew from the heat. Fry your eggs and prep the other accoutrement.
7) Serve; bask in the adoration of your family, friends, cats, law school textbooks--whatever!