With the weather taking a turn for cool in the next month, few foods are more inviting than a bowl of soup. For those who like their autumn air with a side of soup, consider the following recipe for "Spicy Black Bean Soup" courtesy of Leslie Jonath's "Soup's On!" (Chronicle Books).
"Spicy Black Bean Soup"
Serves six to eight
2 cups dried black beans, sorted and soaked overnight in water to cover
1 sprig fresh oregano
2 bay leaves
2 fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon light olive oil or vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, toasted in a pan for 5 minutes
8 garlic cloves, chopped
1 heaped tablespoon ancho chilies, pureed
2 teaspoons chipotle chilies, pureed
1/4 cup dry sherry
8 ounces fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped or 1 can tomatoes with juice, chopped
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
8 ounces fresh tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Drain and rinse the beans. Place them in a soup pot with 6 cups cold water, the oregano, and bay and sage leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the beans are soft, about 30 minutes.
Heat the oil in a saute pan and add the onion, toasted oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne. Cook over medium heat until the onion is soft, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and the chile purees. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes,
Set aside 1 1/2 cups of the cooked beans and remove the fresh herbs and bay leaves. Combine the remaining beans and their broth with the tomatoes and onion and puree them in a blender or food processor. Pass through a food mill to remove the bean skins and return the puree to the soup pot; add the reserved beans, the orange juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Season with salt and cayenne to taste. Cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes.
In a small bowl, toss the tomatoes and cilantro together. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each serving with a spoonful of the tomato-cilantro mixture.