My youngest son, Tim, has turned into a bean fanatic. Black, pinto, kidney...it doesn't matter, he loves beans with just a little sea salt sprinkled on them. Yes, sea salt. I brought home fleur de sel de Camargue from my trip to Provence, and it is Tim's favorite. I love watching him carefully pry off the cap, pinch two fingers worth of salt, and carefully sprinkle it over his beans in a circular motion.
The only problem is, I can't keep up with his demand for beans! I used to make a pound of beans at a time, and I would have a couple of two-cup containers left over that I could freeze for make-ahead beans. Now I only get one extra container, and Tim eats it for lunch the next day.
*As far as problems go, this is a good one to have. I love that Tim is eating his beans. But I'm going to have to start doubling my bean recipes to get ahead of him.
I've been trying out a bunch of simple bean recipes to find new ones that pass Tim's "yuck factor" test. (If there is too much other stuff in there, he's not going to eat it.) This vegetarian black bean soup is one of my favorites. I love the combination of earthy black beans with cumin, coriander and oregano. Pureeing some of the beans gives the soup a thick, rich, creamy body. One of the keys to the recipe is to season the soup heavily at the end; the lime gives it a hint of fruit and acid, but the soup needs a lot of salt and pepper to bring the flavors out. When making soup, seasoning to taste makes difference between bland and delicious.
The best part is, by pre-soaking the beans and using my pressure cooker, I can have this hearty soup ready in a half an hour.*
*I use a brine for pre-soaking the beans, as suggested by Cooks Illustrated. This helps season the beans, and really adds to the flavor of the recipe.
Recipe: Pressure Cooker Black Bean Soup
Inspired By: Lorna Sass Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure
- Pressure Cooker (Any 6 quart or larger PC will do. I love my monster Kuhn Rikon 12 Quart Stockpot.)
Pressure Cooker Black Bean Soup - vegetarian, though you wouldn't know that just by tasting it.
- 1 pound dried black beans
- 4 quarts water
- 2 tablespoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt or 1 teaspoon table salt
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 ½ tbsp dried oregano
Bean cooking ingredients
- 5 cups water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 limes, juiced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Sort, rinse, and brine the black beans: Sort the black beans, removing any stones, clods of dirt, or bad looking beans. Rinse the beans, put them in a large container, cover with 2 tablespoons salt and 4 quarts water, and stir to dissolve the salt. Let the beans soak for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
- Saute the aromatics and spices: Heat 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil over medium heat in the pressure cooker until shimmering. Add the onion and red pepper, and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Saute until the onion and peppers soften, about 5 minutes. Make a hole in the middle of the onions and add the garlic, cumin, coriander and oregano; let sit in the pan for 1 minute or until you can smell the garlic cooking, then stir into the onions. Cook, stirring, for 2 more minutes, until the onions show a hint of browning.
- Cook the black beans: Drain the black beans, rinse them thoroughly, then add them to the pressure cooker. Add the water, bay leaf, and 1 tablespoon olive oil, stir, then scrape the bottom of the pan to make sure none of the onions are sticking. Bring the cooker up to high pressure, then pressure cook the black beans for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, and let the pressure come down naturally, about 15 more minutes.
- Finish the soup: Thicken the soup by pureeing 2 cups of the beans. I use a stick blender directly in the pot; moving 2 cups of beans and liquid to a blender also works. Add the lime juice, then taste for seasoning, and
- add salt and pepper to taste.
- Prep Time: 8 hours
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Category: Pressure Cooker
- Cuisine: American
*Non-vegetarian soup: Start the soup by sauteing a little chorizo or Italian sausage; or, add a smoked ham hock or turkey leg to the pot with the beans. Substituting homemade chicken stock for some of the water is also a good idea.
- Don't have a pressure cooker? Cook the soup in a dutch oven, and increase the water to 6 cups. In step 3, bring the beans to a boil, then simmer, covered, for 1 ½ hours or until tender.
- If you don't want to soak the beans, or you forgot to soak them (um...like I do all the time), sort and rinse them, put them in the pot with 7 cups of water, and increase the time under high pressure to 30 minutes. Continue with the recipe starting with the natural pressure release.
- These beans have a Tex-Mex flavor profile, with the cumin and lime. I like to serve them with tortillas, or if I'm not feeling like a gourmet that night, Fritos. If you would like more of a Caribbean flavor, try the aromatics and seasonings from my slow cooker Caribbean black beans with the pressure cooker technique I describe above.
Lorna Sass Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure
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