Slow Food Sundays, Soups & Stews
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Spicy Black Bean and Roasted Corn Soup

Roasted sweet, ripe summer corn with black beans makes for a richly satisfying soup. When fresh corn isn’t in season just use thawed frozen corn. I also like to use dried black beans rather than convenient canned beans. Yes, they may take a surprising amount of time to cook, but they are little bombshells of flavor and are completely worth the effort. Seriously, big difference in flavor and texture. Plus, just think about the cost savings (that is, if you eat loads of beans) not to mention what’s better for the environment.

Preparing dried beans:
Soaking beans in water helps them to become more tender, reduces the cooking time, and helps them retain their nutrients. It also helps breakdown the complex sugars on the outside of the bean, the thing that causes gas. Put the beans in a bowl, making sure they are amply covered in water, since they will double or triple in size. Let the black beans sit in the water for at least four hours. If you can, they are best soaked overnight as this will greatly reduce the amount of cooking time.

This spicy black bean and roasted corn soup is a great make ahead soup that can be made a day in advance. The flavor actually improves if the flavors are allowed to meld for a day. Serve with your favorite ciabatta bread for a tasty meal. In a rush? No worries, this recipe can be transformed into a quick and easy midweek meal by using canned black beans and frozen corn. Enjoy!

SPICY BLACK BEAN AND ROASTED CORN SOUP
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup dried black beans, soaked for 4 to 12 hours, cooked, or 1 x 400 g can of black beans (about 2 cups cooked)
2 cups fresh corn, cut fresh from cob (about 3 cobs) or frozen corn kernels (thawed)
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 small yellow onions, finely chopped
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 fresh red chili pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped
2 cups chicken broth, divided
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
grated cheddar cheese, garnish
1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving

METHOD:
1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF / 190ºC.

2. If you are using soaked dried beans, drain and rinse them. Put them in a large saucepan with 4 cups (1 liter) of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, partially covered, until the beans are tender, but still hold their shape (al dente). Depending on how dry the beans were, this can take between 45 minutes to 2 hours. Since beans expand as they cook, add warm water periodically during the cooking process to keep the beans covered. If using canned then drain and rinse well. Set aside.

3. While the dried beans are cooking, toss the corn kernels with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Spread evenly on the baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring a couple of times, until the corn just starts to brown a little bit.

4. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery and red pepper, cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, chili powder, and red chili, cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

5. Stir in the black beans and chicken broth and simmer for 10 minutes. Add more water or chicken broth for a soupier consistency, if desired.

6. Add corn and simmer until heated through, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the chopped cilantro. Divide soup among 4 bowls and garnish each portion with grated cheese and lime wedges. Serve hot. Enjoy!

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