This smoky, slightly spicy black bean soup would make a great first course with other Latin style dishes – Mexican, Spanish, Peruvian, etc. Or serve it as the main event at lunch, with crusty bread and a simple green salad.
1.5 cups dry black beans
1 red onion, diced
1 white onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
5 large cloves garlic, minced
4 scallions, diced
1 serrano or other hot chili pepper, whole, lightly scored once lengthwise
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp crushed aleppo pepper (aka halaby spice, available at middle eastern markets)
1 tsp whole coriander seeds
2 tsp whole cumin seeds
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
coarse sea salt
3 bay leaves, crumbled
4 oz. beer, preferably stout or porter
2 Tbsp olive oil
32 oz. unsalted vegan vegetable stock or broth
Rinse beans, cover them with hot tap water by 3 inches and soak for at least 12 hours, changing the water once or twice. Rinse and drain, discarding soaking water.
Prep the vegetable ingredients and set aside. Leave the serrano pepper intact – lightly score one side but do not cut it open. Combine smoked paprika, aleppo pepper, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns and 1 teaspoon sea salt in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and process until finely ground. Warm the vegetable stock in a sauce pan or microwave until it is hot but not boiling.
Heat a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat until hot, then add the olive oil. When oil is almost smoking, add diced onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic and scallions. Sauté for about 8 minutes or until softened. Add spice mix, serrano pepper and crumbled bay leaves; stir vegetables to coat with spice mix and cook another 2 minutes. Stir in beans and beer. Reduce heat to medium – beer should be boiling. Cover and let cook for 8 to 10 minutes.
Add hot vegetable stock and a generous pinch or two of sea salt. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer and cook, covered, for one hour or until beans are soft. Remove and discard chili pepper and any large bay leaf fragments. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth (alternatively, transfer to a blender or food processor and process until smooth, then return to pot). Taste and adjust seasoning. Garnish each bowl with a little finely chopped scallion, if desired.
Freezes and reheats well.
Yields about 2.5 quarts / 2.5L; 6 to 8 large servings