Sunday, December 5, 2010

Black & White Soup

Black&White Soup

Yield: Makes 8 servings

1 1/2 cups dried black beans

4 1/2 cups water
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
3 bacon slices, chopped
5 large fresh thyme sprigs
3 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
2 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin

2 cups (or more) chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Place beans in large bowl. Add enough cold water to cover beans by 3 inches and soak overnight.

Drain beans; transfer to heavy large pot. Add 4 1/2 cups water and next 7 ingredients. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until beans are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour 10 minutes.

Working in batches, puree black bean soup in blender with 2 cups chicken stock. Return soup to pot. Stir in chopped cilantro. (Soup can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Bring soup to simmer, thinning with additional chicken stock if necessary. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

On the black bean soup, sometimes to save time I use canned black beans instead, then pick up the recipe from where it tells you to puree the beans. I like my black bean soup thick and add extra beans. You can add more or less beans as you like.

For Cheese Soup:

Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add peppers, onion and garlic. Sauté vegetables until tender, about 6 minutes. Add flour and stir 2 minutes. Whisk in stock, then milk and cream. Simmer until slightly thickened, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes. Gradually add cheese 1/2 cup at a time, stirring after each addition until melted and smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, simultaneously ladle generous 1/2 cup cheese soup and generous 1/2 cup Black Bean Soup into shallow bowls, allowing soups to meet in center. Top with tomatillo salsa and sour cream.

On the cheese soup, sometimes before adding the milk, cream and cheese, I'll blend the soup so there are no veggie chunks, and it's a much smoother soup. If you don't blend it, it has a nice texture and a confetti- color, so either way is fine. Also, you don't have to use white cheddar cheese - yellow is fine (you just have Black & Yellowish soup instead).

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