30-MINUTE BLACK BEAN SOUP

Black bean soup was a favorite of mine when I was a kid, and it still is. Cumin, garlic, and hot pepper flakes, along with onions and peppers, form the flavor base. The kicker is the canned chipotle pepper, which is everywhere these days, but no less delicious for it.

SERVES 4

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

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2 green bell peppers, finely diced

1 large onion, finely diced

2 medium cloves garlic, minced or grated on a Microplane (about 2 teaspoons)

1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 chipotle chile packed in adobo, finely chopped, plus 1 tablespoon of the adobo sauce

4 cups homemade or low-sodium canned chicken stock

Two 15-ounce cans black beans, with their liquid

2 bay leaves

Kosher salt

For Serving (optional)

Roughly chopped fresh cilantro

Crema (Mexican-style sour cream)

Diced avocado

Diced red onion

1.  Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the bell peppers and onions and cook, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, jalapeño, cumin, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chipotle and adobo sauce and stir to combine. Add the chicken stock, beans, with their liquid, and the bay leaves, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a bare simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.

2.  Discard the bay leaves. Use an immersion blender to roughly puree some of the beans until the desired consistency is reached. Alternatively, transfer 2 cups of the soup to a blender or food processor and process until smooth, starting on low speed and gradually increasing to high, then return to the soup and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt.

3.  Ladle the soup into serving bowls and serve, with cilantro leaves, sour cream, diced avocado, and/or diced red onion if desired.

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