Friday, October 14, 2016

Oaxacan Black Bean Soup

This is another easy, delicious recipe from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen. Even my husband liked this, and he's not a bean soup lover.

I didn't add the shrimp because I couldn't wrap my mental taste palate around them in black bean soup. Also I was just throwing this together and didn't have any. We didn't miss them but I might try them next time.

Oaxacan Black Bean Soup
Makes 7 cups, serving 6

  • 12 ounces (about 2 cups) black beans, picked over
  • 4 avocado leaves or 1 stalk fennel, roughly chopped (I used a bit of ground fennel seed)
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) chorizo sausage, casing removed, crumbled
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • Salt, about 1 teaspoon (I needed much more ... about a tablespoon)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil, for frying
  • 4 to 6 corn tortillas (preferably stale sort-bought ones), sliced into 1/8-inch wide strips, for garnish (Bayless says you can use broken, good quality chips instead of frying up the tortilla strips ... and I did. Delicious!)
  • 8 ounces (about 12) medium-large shrimp, peeled (optional)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Mexican queso fresco or pressed, salted farmer's cheese

The beans
Place the beans in a medium-size (4-quart) pot, cover with 6 cups water, remove any beans that float and heat slowly to a simmer.

If using the avocado leaves, toast them briefly directly over a medium gas flame or on a hot griddle. Add the avocado leaves (or fennel), chorizo, and onion to the beans, partially cover and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the beans are fully tender, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. If you see the beans peeking up through the liquid, add hot water to cover them by 1/2-inch.

Finishing the soup
Use an immersion blender to coarsely puree the soup, or puree in batches in a food processor or loosely covered blender. Return it to the pot. Add enough water to thin to a medium-thick consistency. Taste and season with salt.

Heat the oil in a medium size (8 to 9-inch) skillet over medium-high. When hot, add about 1/3 of the tortilla strips and fry, turning frequently, until they are crisp. Drain on paper towels. Fry the remaining strips in 2 batches.

Serving the soup
If using the shrimp, devein each one by making a shallow incision down the back, exposing the (usually) dark intestinal track; scrape it out. Heat the soup to a boil, add the shrimp and cook until just done, abut 2 minutes. Ladle into warm soup bowls, top with a few of the crisp tortilla strips and sprinkle with a little cheese.

Bayless has several variations including this one which I might try: leave out the avocado leaves and chorizo, using several chopped canned chipotles added with the dry beans.

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