Friday, April 5, 2013

Desert Black Bean Soup

Day 23

 I can’t believe that significant areas of Maryland and Virginia are still getting snow well into April. Even though spring is technically here, it certainly doesn’t feel like it. Since the weather is predicted to turn warmer very soon, I thought this might be a good time to add a soup recipe that is sure to please before the heat arrives and stays. 
Copyright, Doug Kapustin Photography, 2013

I created this black bean soup recipe after Doug’s and my summer adventure near Moab, Utah. We drove there to camp and to visit Arches National Park. After an afternoon hike to Delicate Arch, we retreated to a restaurant near our campsite that was recommended by some locals we met. We were told that we simply had to try their famous black bean soup.

Despite our being in the throes of the oppressive desert heat of summer time, we sat down in the rustic, nicely air-conditioned Moab Brewery—the only micro-brewery in Moab. Ordering specialty beer and black bean soup, we began to feel re-energized, ready for what was reported to us as “the best black bean soup in the world”. Now, let it suffice to say that I haven’t consumed enough bean soup to truly critique it to that degree, but there is no arguing that Moab Brewery’s black bean soup was extraordinary. And, most particularly, I appreciated the textures, flavor, and even the fact that it was a hot soup, in spite of the summer temperatures. 

Carefully tasting and savoring to determine the subtle ingredients and flavor nuances, I took notes. As you might have guessed, I tried to recreate it as soon as we arrived home. Although I definitely have not perfectly duplicated the original, I’ve tweaked and tried several times. I’ll keep trying, but until the final result, I’m happy to pass along this tasty version.

Because it is lighter than most soups, I recommend serving it with pita bread or light flat bread rather than heavier loaves or cornbread. Also, this soup has no meat in it, although I did use chicken stock. You could absolutely substitute that for vegetable broth if you desire a vegetarian version of the soup. 

If you’re ever in Moab, Utah, hike through Arches National Park, then stop by the Moab Brewery and order the black bean soup and a specialty beer. You’ll be ever so glad you did!

Until that adventure, I hope you will enjoy my version of their specialty!

Desert Black Bean Soup

4 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 large red onion, chopped 
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and chopped finely
3 cups chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 large, vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, seeds removed, and chopped OR 1 (28-oz) can of whole plum tomatoes, pureed in food processor with juice
2 cups yellow corn
3 cups chicken stock
3 tbs. good quality chili powder
2 tbs. cumin
2 tbs. paprika
1 tbs. coarsely ground black pepper
1 tbs. salt

Dash of lime juice
Grated smoked Gouda cheese
Chopped green onion
Sour cream


In a large dutch oven or stock pot, sauté onion and green pepper in olive oil. Once translucent, add garlic and jalapeno and sauté for one minute more. Add tomatoes, chicken stock, black beans, corn, chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, and black pepper. Stir. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes, allowing flavors to blend. Add cilantro and gently stir.

Serve immediately with a dash of lime juice, chopped green onions, grated cheese, and a dollop sour cream. 

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