Sunday, March 14, 2010

Rick Bayless' Black Bean Soup

I ate at Rick Bayless' restaurant Topolobampo once when I was in Chicago visiting my brother; he also sells a great set of salsas (that are often for sale at Albertsons here in Billings). He's kind of "the" chef in the Mexican food world right now, so this recipe for Black Bean Soup caught my eye.

I've got two other 'go to' Black Bean soups: this one that comes together in just minutes, and this one that is super simple and just simmers in the crockpot all day.

Add this one to the regular rotation, but with one exception: it was waaaay too hot for me. Also, it's not nearly as healthy (or cheap) as the others because of the addition of half a pound of chorizo, but that's part of what made it so delicious.

Other changes I made to the recipe: I couldn't find fennel at the grocery store and didn't want to hunt all over town for it, and HH wasn't answering his phone to google substitutions for me... in the end, I added an extra onion, plus just under 1 tsp ground anise. I was concerned it would be too much licorice flavor, but there was just the tiniest hint.

We liked this a lot. It has a ton of flavor and is very rich. HH thought this was the best black bean soup yet and he's liked them all. The comments in the original recipe said the shrimp were optional, but I really liked them in it. We're bringing leftovers tomorrow for my in-laws, since I'm not sure I can eat much more of it and still digest other things for the next few days. But that's pretty minor, considering what a great dinner we had!

So, here's a black bean recipe that I endorse. (Oh, and it went great with HH's homemade tortilla chips, but what doesn't?!?)

Rick Bayless's Black Bean Soup

- serves 4 -

Adapted from The Best Soups in the World by Clifford A. Wright.


3/4 pound (1 1/2 cups) dried black beans, picked over
12 cups water
6 ounces (about 1 link) Mexican-style chorizo, casing removed and crumbled [I used all of a 9 oz package]
1 stalk fennel, chopped [substituted one onion + 1 tsp anise, which isn't an ideal substitution, but it worked]
1 medium onion, chopped
3 chipotle chiles in adobo, chopped [I will use ONE chipotle in the future, no mas]
4 teaspoons salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined if necessary
5 corn tostadas, broken up or a handful of corn tortilla chips
1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco or cheddar cheese


1. In a large pot, place the beans and cover with 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn the heat off and let the beans sit for 1 hour. Drain.

2. Return the beans to the pot and cover with the remaining 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, stir in the chorizo, fennel, onion, and chipotle chiles in adobo, partially cover, and simmer until the beans are tender, about 2 hours.

3. Transfer the soup to a blender, in batches if necessary, and blend until it forms a smooth puree. Return the soup to the pot, add the salt and pepper, stir, and heat over medium heat until hot, then add the shrimp and cook until they are orange-red, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve the soup in individual bowls garnished with the tostadas and crumbled cheese.

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