Sunday, March 27, 2011

Black Bean Soup


There is nothing like a bowl of black bean soup on a rainy day.  I have been making this staple for as long as I can remember and although it is not a French dish,  I know you can find the beans here in Nice at the Asian markets.   Just ask for haricot noir and I'll bet you'll find them.

Once you have located your beans:

1)   Put 1 1/2 cups of dried beans ( soaked means quicker cooking) into a large pot.

2)   Add  1 onion, a chopped carrot, 1 celery rib, a bay leaf, fresh oregano and 6 cups of water to the pot               over high heat.

3)   Boil,  lower the heat, cover and simmer until the beans are soft .  THis takes at least an hour, maybe more.  Add more water when necessary.

4) When done to your likeness, season the beans with salt and pepper and chili powder .

5) Garnish with chopped cilantro and either sour cream, creme fraiche or yoghurt to your taste.

Sometimes when I am in a hurry, I use a pressure cooker.    I saute the onion and a few tablespoons of chopped celery first and then use 3 cups of chicken stock instead of all the water.  I may add orange peel (1/2 t. grated) and a 1/4 cup of sherry and a few chopped garlic cloves.   All these are added to the beans before closing the cooker.

Another trick if you like a thicker soup is to mash some of the beans with a potato masher to mix with the "bean juice" before serving.

Both recipes give a filling soup.  If your system can't take too many beans you may wish to serve fewer beans over brown rice along with some  fresh, ripe chopped tomatoes.  Season with fresh dill and  a splash of vinegar.  I think this recipe is from Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe which, if you are as old as the hills, you will remember as the bible for food combining which came out in 1971.

But regardless of the health benefits of beans, I just love good country cooking.  It reminds me of my "pioneer" mother's repertoire.  This was not one of her recipes but it might have been on my father's side.  After all he was a southerner and in the States the famous black bean recipe is from Charleston.


  1. Wonderful photograph!
    I will taste Jimmy's one next week! ;)

  2. Looks splendid. As a bean-lover, I would only add that soaking the beans overnight makes them much more digestible.

  3. Hi Mary,
    I like the orange peel touch - I'll have to try that next time I make this. Thanks!

  4. I believe the beans you buy in Asian markets are soy. and not what you'd get from Cuba.


  5. I think so, is there a big difference? Where do we get the Cuban ones then, Bruce?

  6. "The Caribbean or New York, or possibly canned in the U.K."