Panera's Black Bean soup has long been a favorite for me. Though this form of soup doesn't necessarily look appealing (which is isn't if you don't like beans) I absolutely love it--the spiciness, the heartiness, the deliciousness. I found this recipe on a google search at Well Fed. I had all of the ingredients on hand and decided to try it.
It was delicious. We both loved it! (Note: After a day to think about his reaction to the soup, Kevin has announced that it's not his favorite thing. He's not a huge legume fan first of all. And that's pretty much all this is. But he also said it had too many flavors going on for his taste. Which I found interesting. You be the judge.) This soup is very filling and nothing but healthy for you. The only down side was using the dry beans and having to wait for them to cook. (However, don't do as I did...be sure you realize that the beans will not be fully cooked before draining them and adding them to the soup.) Also, I use chicken bouillon cubes which require boiling lots of water (8 cups) and dissolving the cubes. Another pan.
Other than being a bit lengthy in process (which could be avoided if you use canned beans and boxed stock), this recipe is top notch! I served it with fresh baked white bread.
2 cups dried black beans, picked over and rinsed
2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, diced (I used a small yellow/white onion)
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced (I used a green pepper)
2 carrots, peeled and diced
4 ribs celery, diced
2 jalapenos, diced with seeds
8 garlic cloves, minced (I used 5)
1 Granny Smith or other tart apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1 tablespoon dried basil
8 cups chicken stock
4 bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt
freshly ground black pepper
juice of 1 limes (I used lemon)
2 scallions, thinly sliced (for garnish, optional)
(For the cilantro cream)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
juice of 1 lime
2 scallions, thinly sliced (for garnish)
Quick soak the beans: Place the beans in a large pot and cover with water by 3 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, and set aside.
While the beans are cooking, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, add the onion and cook, stirring for about 10 minutes, until softened. Add the red bell pepper, carrots, celery, and jalapenos and cook, stirring for about 10 more minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes longer. Add the apple, basil, broth, bay leaves, salt and pepper, and drained beans. Stir to blend. Bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 1 to 1 1/4 hours, until the beans are tender.
Remove the bay leaves. Place half of the soup in a blender and puree until smooth.
Return the pureed mixture to the pot and cook an additional 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the lime juice. Ladle into bowls, garnish with the scallions and the cilantro cream and serve immediately.