It feels like winter here in Portland with the cold temperature and blustery wind. The only thing this early winter is missing is the standard dousing of rain and occasional snow that plagues the city and tests Portlanders driving abilities.
I did not grow up eating beans of any sort. Not green beans. Not chili beans. Not red kidney beans. Not pinto. My parents never made me eat my greens. I picked beans out of chili. I avoided things such as refried beans or beans on rice when accompanying tex-mex food on my plate. (We didn’t have authentic Mexican food where I grew up. We had Taco Bell and Chi-Chi’s.)
Somewhere along the line I grew to love beans. This may have started with some Desert Pepper black bean dip. It’s the earliest memory I have of eating beans and still a great dip to this day. I think at some point I realized it was acceptable to have black beans sprinkled on nachos. About 10 years ago my boyfriend at the time was mainly Mexican but also part Spanish and French made bean and cheese burritos and I began eating bean and cheese burritos and pinto beans more regularly.
Now I eat beans all the time. I love hummus. I love it with garbanzo beans, white beans or even mung beans. I love bean tacos. And beans in chili or even chili mac and cheese. I love beans in soup. And mixed with rice. In burger form. Rolled into enchiladas.
This recipe started out as a quest to use up some black beans and an intent to make a yummy, spicy black bean soup. Instead, it turned into a chili of sorts at Sis’s declaration when we realized realized how chock full of vegetables it was. Call it soup or chili – I don’t care. Call it delicious because it is.
- 1 small (7-oz) can chipotle chilies in adobo (see note)
- olive oil
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 onions, peeled and chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 c. red wine
- 2 jalapeño peppers, chopped
- 1 lb dried black beans
- 2 qts mild vegetable stock
- 1 10-oz can of Ro-tel tomatoes with green chiles
- 1 T. dried chives or Mexican oregano
- 1 T. kosher salt
- Sour cream or Mexican crema for garnish (optional)
- Diced avocado for garnish (optional)
- Whole cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)
- In a large, heavy pot, heat some olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add carrots, onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, 5 to 8 minutes.
- Pour in wine and let simmer until pan is almost dry and vegetables are coated. Add jalapeños and cook, stirring, just until softened, 2 minutes.
- Add can of chipotle peppers, beans, stock, Ro-tel, oregano and bay leaves. Stir, bring to a boil and let boil 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally and adding hot water as needed to keep the soup liquid and runny, not sludgy. Continue cooking until beans are just softened and fragrant, 1 to 2 hours. Add salt and keep cooking until beans are soft.
- Fish out the chipotle peppers. Use an immersion blender or blender to purée the peppers and a small amount of the beans until smooth, then stir back in. Continue until desired texture is reached, keeping in mind that the soup will continue to thicken as it sits. Heat the soup through, taste and adjust the seasonings with salt.
- Serve in bowls, garnishing each serving with a dollop of (vegan or regular) sour cream, a scattering of cubed avocado and some cilantro leaves if you like. Have some crusty sourdough or sweet cornbread on the side to round out your meal.