Peanut Butter and Purple Onions

Sounds crazy until you try it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I Guess Traditional Doesn't Always Mean Pretty

Looks like I made mud soup, doesn't it? Well, perhaps clay. Earthy, anyway.

It's actually black bean soup. More precisely, it's Boston-style black bean soup, which is apparently a traditional, sort of old-fashioned way of cooking black beans with warm spices like cloves and dry mustard. Despite the pallid appearance, trust me -- this is a rich and savory soup. I've been taking it to work all week for lunch.

Does this mean I have to try Manhattan-style clam chowder next?

Boston-Style Black Bean Soup
Adapted from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen

Makes about 2.5 quarts.

1.5 c. black beans
2 T. butter or olive oil
1 c. finely chopped yellow onion
3 bay leaves
0.5 c. finely diced celery
2 tsp. minced garlic
1.5 tsp. dry mustard
0.5 tsp. ground cloves
1 c. nf milk
fresh lemon juice
lemon slices
whole cloves

Soak the beans at least four hours and preferably overnight. Drain well.

Melt the butter in a large soup pot with a lid. Add the onion, bay leaves, celery, and garlic, and cook until the onion turns soft and translucent. Stir in the mustard and cloves, then add the beans and two quarts of water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for about an hour. Add 2 tsp. salt and cook another 30 minutes, covered, or until the beans are soft.

Remove the soup from the heat and cool briefly. Puree the soup with an immersion blender if you're lucky enough to have one, and in a regular blender in batches if you're like me. Return the soup to the pot and stir in the milk. Bring the soup back up to a soothingly warm eating temperature.

If you like, squeeze a bit of lemon juice into each bowl, and float clove-studded slice of lemon on top.

* I'm sure it would be even richer with regular milk or half and half.
* Next time I would add some more cloves and maybe a shake of nutmeg.


  • At 11:02 AM, Blogger karina said…

    I love black bean soup - even if it isn't the most photogenic of soups! ;-)

  • At 6:10 PM, Blogger Devorit said…

    I vote a big NO on the Manhattan chowder. ewwww *g* And the tomato isn't even my mortal enemy.

    I'll have to try the soup . . .though it will be hard to pull myself away from my love of the pinto bean.

  • At 11:12 PM, Anonymous Ivonne said…

    I love black beans and go out of my way to use them in cooking! I even use them in a baked bean recipe that I have.

    Hey this looks good to me! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  • At 12:41 PM, Anonymous Jennifer said…

    Ample proof that food doesn't have to be pretty to be delicious (although I bet that lemon-clove garnish would help!) I love black bean soup, especially in the winter, but I've never pureed it. What's the texture like?

  • At 12:27 PM, Blogger BNA said…

    Hi Karina! Homely but lovable...that's the black bean.

    D -- you know I'll never make Manhattan clam chowder. I've always thought the addition of tomatoes was blasphemous.

    Hi Ivonne! I just polished off the last of this soup and now I'm sort of sad, so I think that's a good sign!

    Heya Jennifer! I should've added the garnish for the photo (when eating it from a mug, it kept getting in my way). The texture is quite brothy and light -- eminently drinkable. There are still bits of black bean in mine, but I like the contrast.


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