I feel a lot of my posts have been starting this way, but the weather has been crazy lately! 70 degrees one day and 25 with snow the next. Needless to say, my body has no idea what season it is or what kind of food it should be craving.
One constant that I can always rely on this time of year, however, is soup. Whether it's a hearty stew or a lighter minestrone, soup just works.
Which is why during one of these drastic temperature swings, Ravi and I decided black bean soup was the only answer to Sunday night dinner. Not a Mexican inspired soup though - those are of course delicious, but we wanted something rich and savory that focused on the flavor of the actual beans.
My mom used to make the exact soup I was envisioning growing up. The problem was that she used a ham hock and dry sherry to add that richness and depth of flavor. The sherry I didn't have an issue with (it just wasn't in my pantry), but the ham hock was obviously out. So, I tweaked her recipe a bit and this soup was the result. It's honestly one of the best back bean soups I've ever had. Seriously! The red wine and tomato paste reduction adds that needed depth of flavor to warm your bones and make you go, mmmmmmm........
Savory Black Bean Soup
1 cup black beans, soaked 8 hours, drained, and rinsed
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup red wine
1 Tbs. tomato paste
4-6 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. sea salt (to taste)
To garnish: parsley, yogurt, red wine vinegar
Bring a large stock pot or dutch oven to medium heat. Add olive oil, onion, and carrot. Cook until translucent and just starting to brown, about 5-8 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook another minute until fragrant.
Next, add red wine and tomato paste - stir to incorporate. Let the wine simmer until the pot is almost dry. Add beans, 4 cups vegetable broth, bay leaf, and 1 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer.
Cover the pot and let the beans cook until just tender (approximately 1-2 hours). Check the beans occasionally and add the remaining 1-2 cups of vegetable broth if needed. You want to keep the beans completely submerged in liquid.
Once the beans are tender, ladle 1-2 cups of the soup mixture into a blender and purée until smooth. Hot liquids can splatter, so be sure the lid is on tight and you increase the blender speed slowly.
Add the puréed soup back to the pot and stir to incorporate. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly.
I like to top my soup with finely chopped parsley. A dollop of yogurt or a splash of red wine vinegar would be a nice addition as well. The vinegar helps cut the richness of the soup.
Instant Pot Variation:
To cook this in an Instant Pot, follow the steps exactly as written using the Sauté function.
When you add the beans and vegetable stock to the pot, turn off the Sauté function and set to Manual mode - high pressure for 20 minutes. Make sure the steaming vent is closed and use the natural release method. (You will only need 4 cups of vegetable stock.)
When the timer goes off and the pressure is released, continue with the recipe by puréeing part of the beans.