Sunday, March 2, 2014

Black Bean Soup with Toasted Coconut and Pepitas

It seems I've finally come to the end of my concentrated soup base experiment. There's been sweet potato soups and black bean soups galore, concluding with my personal spin on Joe Yonan's black bean soup base. I'll admit that I plagarized from myself a bit, again using rich and crunchy toasted coconut that worked so well with the sweet potato variety, this time swapping out the almonds for a smattering of pumpkin seeds. The creamy, spicy base really pops in contrast to the rich and toasty coconut and pepitas, the flavors and textures contrasting and complementing simultaneously. Although I didn't have any in the fridge to add this time, spinach or other hearty greens would be a nice nutritional boost, as with sweet potato soup. If you can't imagine eating a bowl of soup crusty bread, a roll, or crackers for dunking, I recommend a hearty handful of tortilla chips to get you through this bowl.

Now that I've made my way through all of Joe Yonan's recipes with concentrated soup base, I'm on to tackle his pasta sauce-based recipes, which extend far beyond dressing up some penne. While I'll look back fondly on this last culinary adventure, I'm excited to move on to the next one.

Black Bean Soup with Toasted Coconut and Pumpkin Seeds
serves 1

1 to 1 1/2 cups Spicy Black Bean Soup Base (see below)
Up to 1/2 cup water, or chicken, shrimp, or vegetable stock
Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 tablespoon unsweetened flaked coconut

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the soup base. Whisk in enough stockor water to reach desired consistency. Cook for a few minutes to heat the soup through. Taste and add more salt, if desired. Decrease the heat to low, cover, and keep it hot while you make the topping.

2. Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pepitas and coconut and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are fragrant and lightly browned, about 4 to 5 minutes.

3. Pour the soup into a serving bowl, top with the pepitas and coconut, and serve warm.
Spicy Black Bean Soup Base
from Serve Yourself by Joe Yonan
makes 4 to 5 cups

2 dried ancho, guajillo, or New Mexico chiles, or more to taste
1/2 pound dried black beans (1 heaping cup)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 celery stalk, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 shallot loves or 1/2 small onion, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large garlic clove, chopped
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, plus more as needed

1. Tear, break, or use scissors to cut the anchos into small strips or pieces. Combine them with the bean in a large bowl and add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Let soak for at least 6 hours or overnight.

2. Pour the oil into a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the carrot, celery shallots, garlic, cinnamon, and allspice. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook the vegetables slowly until they start to become tender, about 10 minutes.

3. Add the beans, chiles, their soaking liquid, and enough water to cover the beans by 1 inch. Increase the heat to high to bring the contents to a boil. Then decrease the heat to low so that the liquid is at a bare simmer.

4. Cover and gently cook until the beans are very tender, 1 to 2 hours, depending on the age of the beans. Add the salt, cook for a few more minutes, then let cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

5. Use a handheld immersion blender to puree the soup, then taste and adjust the salt if needed. (Alternatively, you can puree it in a blender or food processor. If you are using a blender, be sure to remove the center cap on the lid and cover with a dish towel to let steam escape, and work in small batches to avoid splattering the soup.

6. Divide it into 4 portions and use immediately, refrigerate up to 1 week, or freeze in small containers or heavy-duty freezer-safe resealable plastic bags, pressing as much air out of the bag as possible before sealing. It will keep frozen for several months.

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