Black Bean Soup; Corn Muffins

By Ira

My husband does not usually like black bean soup but he loves this one, especially with the additions of the garnishes. You can keep this soup in the fridge in an airtight container for 3 or 4 days. If it gets too thick, you can stir in additional chicken stock or water.

I soaked the beans overnight but the original recipe does not require you do this additional step, so you can skip it. Bear in mind that you do need to boil the beans for an hour and a half before you can use it. I also decided not to use ham steak that was in the original recipe.

You can start this meal by boiling the beans first. Meanwhile, you can prepare all the soup ingredients, followed by preparing the muffins. Then start making the soup while the muffins are in the oven; finally, prepare the garnishes while the soup is simmering.

Black Bean Soup

Serves 6 – adapted from Cooking at Home with America’s Test Kitchen

  • 1 pound dried black beans
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil / butter
  • 2 large onions, chopped fine (about 3 cups)
  • 1 large carrot, chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon Chipotle Chili Pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

Garnishes:

  • sour cream
  • cilantro leaves, minced
  • red onion, finely diced
  • avocado, diced medium
  • lime wedges

Place the beans in a large bowl and cover generously with water.

Leave overnight or all day. Drain.

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add the beans, bay leaves, water, and baking soda. Bring to a boil.

With a large spoon, skim the scum off the surface. Then stir in the salt, reduce heat to low, cover, and let it simmer for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours until the beans are tender.

You can add an additional cup of water if the beans are not tender yet, and continue simmering. Make sure that you test a few of the beans as dried beans tend to cook unevenly. Discard the bay leaves but do not drain.

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they’re soft, about 12 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add the garlic, chipotle chili pepper, and cumin, and cook stirring constantly for 3 minutes

until fragrant.

Add the beans and their cooking liquid, and the chicken broth. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered , stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes.

Ladle 1 1/2 cups of the beans and 2 cups of the liquid into a food processor or blender, and process until smooth. Return to the pot.

In a small bowl, stir the cornstarch and water. Gradually while stirring the soup, add half of the cornstarch into the soup.

Bring it to a boil so it thickens. If you’d like the soup to be thicker, then add the rest of the cornstarch.

Serve with the garnishes.

Corn Muffins

You need to use a fine grind cornmeal for this recipe, otherwise the muffins will be too coarse. Arrowhead Mills cornmeal works great. I’ve also tried it with Bob’s Red Mill Corn Flour and this worked great as well. Don’t use a degerminated one as it has no flavor.

Makes 12 muffins – Adapted from Inside America’s Test Kitchen

The only change I made to this recipe is that I used half whole wheat pastry flour instead of just all purpose flour.

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup fine-ground, whole grain yellow cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with the rack in the middle position. Spray a standard muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray or line them up with baking cups.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In another medium bowl, whisk the eggs for about 20 seconds.

Add the sugar and whisk vigorously for about 30 seconds. .

Add the melted butter in 3 additions, whisking after each addition.

Add half of the sour cream and half the milk and whisk to combine. Add the rest of the sour cream and milk and whisk again to combine.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix gently with a spatula until they’re just combined.

Do not over-mix.

Using an ice cream scoop or a large spoon, divide the batter among the muffin cups. You can just drop it so it forms a mound and do not flatten the surface.

Bake for about 18 minutes, until they’re light golden brown and the skewer inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean. Rotate the tin halfway through baking. Cool them in the tin for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack and cool for another 5 minutes. Serve warm.

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