Starting on January 1st each year I transform into an annoying organizational fiend, whisking all traces of Christmas away into the basement storage area (or, as is more often the case, supervising less-clumsy and much taller husband of said whisking — I like to do the cleaning afterward) where they will lie dormant until next December. Then my eyes rove around the house looking for something that might be improved, say the pantry that could really benefit from some faux-brick on one wall and a purge of seldom-used appliances. Or the ‘recipe bench’ which is one section of our chaparral table seating bench where I’ve stuffed cut-out and original hand-written recipes for years and is wasting away of neglect and begging a muffled-paper plea to be transferred into a computer file for much easier access.
On this rainy January day I have swaddled myself in sweats and my husband’s polar-fleece pullover, and have come up with a dinner plan that does not involve going out into the chill damp to grocery shop, but only padding in my socks over to same-said sans faux-brick pantry mentioned above. Unfortunately the recipe I have in mind had to be unearthed from that messy bench, with only the clue of remembrance; I knew I was looking for a 3x3-inch purple Post-it note written in my hand with a, perhaps magical, silver-inked pen. I scrawled it down some years ago after eating a wonderful black bean soup in a local upscale Mexican-style restaurant. From the menu description, and a highly-developed sense of taste and smell, (my heretofore unacknowledged superhero power), I ciphered out the ingredients, and worked out an acceptably similar homemade version.
I did not have jalapeños in-house for the mild mouth-tingling bite of pleasurable heat, so used freshly grated ginger, instead, for a new variation. Enjoy!
1 cup onion, chopped
1 ½ Tbsp. olive oil
1 small green jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
1 small red jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 15-oz. cans black beans, drained
1 15-oz. can coconut milk
1 cup or so of water
Vegetable bouillon, for seasoning
In a large, heavy saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté onions until softened. Add jalapeño and garlic, stirring for a minute.
Add beans, coconut milk and water to cover beans, and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and cover partially. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavors are melded — about 20 minutes.
Using an immersion blender, puree the soup either until smooth, or about half-way so you get some nice chunks of texture. (If using a traditional blender, puree in two batches.) Thin with additional water, if desired. Stir in veggie bouillon to taste.
Ladle soup into bowl, and garnish with chopped cilantro (optional).
Serves about 2.