This is the kind of soup where you lick the bowl clean.
And lick it I did. Twice.
Super luscious and satisfying, this spicy black bean soup was exactly what I was hoping for the other night.
Determined to make a dent in my ever-mountainous pile of canned beans in the pantry closet (I can’t resist the 10/$10 sales), I decided to use up some black beans for a quick and flavorful soup.
I remembered a cold black bean soup recipe from Jacques Pepin a while back and liked his technique of pureeing everything together — so that’s exactly what I did.
Except in my case, I used several different ingredients to bump up the flavor factor and added a cold and tangy drizzle to go on top.
What emerged from the pot of simmering soup was heavenly. I took a sip of it and I literally think my eyes closed for a few seconds to soak it all in. It was so good.
I used the opportunity to add in some powdered aji amarillo I had recently acquired to test out the flavor. And boy oh boy was I blown away! It was totally complex and earthy with its’ innate fruity spiciness at the forefront but much more magnified. It was intense and exactly what the soup needed.
To cool everything off, the quick whirl of fresh avocado, lime juice, and cilantro made for a really refreshing sauce at the very end.
Spicy Black Bean Soup with Aji Amarillo and Avocado-Lime Cream Sauce
Serves 2-3; prep and cook 45 minutes
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ red onion; chopped roughly
2 green onions; chopped roughly
2 garlic cloves; minced
2 teaspoons aji amarillo powder*
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can black beans; rinsed and drained
1 can chicken stock
1 avocado; flesh scooped out
Juice of 1 lime
½ cup chopped cilantro leaves
½ cup Mexican crema or half-and-half**
Salt and pepper
Queso fresco; crumbled
Paprika; for garnish
*I was able to find powdered aji amarillo through my local specialty foods store but you can also buy it online. Otherwise, a good alternative might be to use a scant sprinkling of cayenne pepper or bump up the chili powder to 1 tablespoon.
**Mexican crema is similar in consistency to half-and-half but with much more flavor – a bit like cottage cheese. I usually find it at latin American markets in a tall screw-top container.
In a medium-sized saucepot, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Toss in the chopped red onions, green onions, garlic, aji amarillo, chili powder, cumin, and salt and pepper. Mix together with a wooden spoon to combine and sauté until the vegetables are slightly softened.
Add in the black beans and combine with the onions and seasonings; let them mingle together for about another 30 seconds. Pour in the chicken stock and stir. Let the soup come up to a boil and then lower to a simmer and cook, uncovered for about 30 minutes, tasting for seasonings.
Meanwhile, put the avocado, lime juice, cilantro, crema or half-and-half, and salt and pepper into a blender and whirl together until it turns a soft green color and the mixture has loosened up a bit. If it’s too heavy, add more liquid. Taste for seasonings and then pour into a container.
After 30 minutes, take the soup off the heat and use a stick blender or the stand blender to blitz the soup into a puree.
Pour the soup into a bowl and drizzle in the avocado-lime cream sauce over the top and finish with a sprinkle of queso fresco, cilantro leaves, paprika, and serve with a wedge of lime.