Smoky Black Bean Soup

Today I was tired after lunch and needed to have a Diet Dr Pepper this afternoon. This reminds me that I haven’t told you about the black bean soup that I made with coffee that helped keep me wide-eyed and alert in the afternoons.

I love coffee. I drink it every morning, and not just so that I won’t have caffeine withdrawal. I like the flavor. I don’t make a ton of coffee-themed foods, mostly because Alex doesn’t like coffee, and there’s a limit to how much coffee I could reasonable consume and be able to sleep at night.

You might imagine that I was excited and intrigued when I found the recipe for Smoky Black Bean Soup. Much like with lentil soup, I’ve never made a black bean soup I’ve really liked. I’ve had a hard time deciding what black bean soup recipes I should try, but I could definitely get behind one that took 2 cups of coffee! Aside from coffee, the soup had a great combination of onion, garlic, red bell pepper, celery, jalapeno, and cumin.

I soaked my beans overnight, rather than doing a quick soak. I didn’t have the optional ham hock but wanted the flavor, so I decided to fry some bacon to add to it. I sauteed my vegetables in the bacon grease rather than olive oil to give it a little extra flavor. I added the rest of the ingredients (although I can’t remember if I added the bacon now or later) and simmered it for about an hour and a half. I added the salt (which you don’t want to add while you cook the beans because it will toughen the skins.) I used an immersion blender to puree the soup, and actually pureed it about all the way, instead of only pureeing half of the soup like I had meant to. I didn’t have any for dinner that night, but I packaged it up for lunch the next day. I omitted the sour cream garnish but included as much cilantro as I wanted.

This was a good soup. The house smelled smoky from the simmering coffee, and I’m sure Alex is glad that he missed being here for that. The smoky aspect of the coffee contributed to the earthy background flavor of the soup. I actually didn’t care much for the cilantro on the soup. Without the sour cream, I should have come up with something else to contrast with the soup. I wish I’d had a ham hock. It would be a good vegetarian soup, but I think that it would be amazing as a ham and black bean soup.

I would like to note that 2 cups of coffee is 16 ounces, and is actually closer to 3 servings of coffee than you might realize (since “cups of coffee” are actually 6 ounces). If you’re sensitive to caffeine, you’d definitely want to use decaf in this soup. I think that the extra half cup of coffee I had in each bowl of soup I ate was enough to keep me alert and focused in the afternoon (and is coincidentally, about the amount of caffeine in a can of soda). I’m glad I thought twice about having this soup for dinner, because it would have made it difficult for me to fall asleep at night.

I liked this soup. Without the sour cream garnish, it needed a little something else. I think that next time I’d include ham, and I wouldn’t blend it all. I’d also think about garnishing it with red bell peppers or a chunky salsa. I’ll probably try this soup again sometime – but if I’m going to have it for dinner, I’ll have to make it decaf.

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