About 100 years ago (or so it seems), there was a fancy-dancy restaurant in Edmonton called The Carvery. Basically, it was a steak house, but very upscale. Anyone dining there could be assured of envious oooh and ahs from co-workers and friends. Aside from the impeccable service, I will always remember certain dishes I was fortunate to taste there.
Escargots en Brioche, Peppercorn-encrusted Filet Mignon, but the real stand out item was their Black Bean Soup. Honestly, it seemed the whole city was talking about it, and many, including myself were clamouring for the recipe! I was fortunate to have a friend with sharp eyes who found it in one of the food columns of the Edmonton Journal.
That was over 20 years ago, and I am still making this soup! (with a couple of tweaks, of course.)
The Carverys’ Black Bean Soup
2 cups dried black beans
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, sliced into 1/4″ slices
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground is best)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
1 cup Heinz Chile Sauce (sub ketchup if you cant find the chile sauce)
4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced, or 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 litre water (about)
1 litre chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (or more to taste)
3/4 cup sherry
2 cups cooked brown rice,
Cotija (or feta) cheese
Sort, rinse and soak beans in water over night.
In large pot over medium heat, heat the oil and add the onions, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally until onion is translucent. Do not let the onions brown. Stir in tomato paste, garlic, cumin, black pepper and cayenne and cook another minute, until tomato paste darkens a bit and spices become fragrant.
Add beans and their soaking liquid to pot. Add chicken stock and enough water to cover beans by about 2 inches. Bring to boil over high heat for 15 – 20 minutes. Reduce heat to low, partially cover and simmer 2 – 4 hours, until beans are soft and starting to split open. Be sure to keep an eye on the water level, adding more water or stock as needed to keep the beans covered during cooking time.
Once beans are fully cooked, remove from heat and add salt and sherry, stirring well to combine. Allow to cool slightly.
Working in batches, CAREFULLY, transfer to blender & puree about 2/3 of the soup. Pour the pureed mixture back into the pot with the whole beans. Taste for seasoning, reheat and spoon into bowls. Top with brown rice and cotija cheese and serve.
Additional topping ideas include, but certainly are NOT limited to: sour cream, diced tomatoes, diced avocados and chile flakes.