Black Bean Soup with Chimolata

This is our current favorite soup, finally knocking posole out of the position it’s held for years. It is extremely easy and will be ready in a little over half an hour. Perfect on a cold afternoon, or after a long day at work.

My inner Martha always chastises me for not starting with home-cooked beans. But ya know, real life people.

This soup is good, but what really makes it fabulous is the citrusy-herby dollop of sauce you add to the bowl. I still don’t know what the hell to call it – it’s like a gremolata or a chimichurri in a Sonoran Southwest kind of way. Cilantro, garlic, red pepper flakes, lime zest and juice. Unlike a blob of sour cream that would make this soup feel heavier, the heat, zing, and herbaceousness of this chimolata (hmm…I like that one) really lift this up. It makes the soup hearty, but not heavy. And really dense in flavor.

Himself likes this with tortilla chips. Corn bread or a grilled cheez (or cheese, if you are not dairy-impaired as we are) along with a salad will make this an awesome and easy meal – something we can all use as end of year busyness overtakes our lives.

Make it and enjoy.

This is enough for four. So, dinner and leftovers lunch for two.

Black Bean Soup with Chimolata

Ingredients for the soup:
1 small onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
4 celery stalks, chopped
1 Tbsp. Mexican oregano
½ tsp. Ground cumin
2 Tbsp. chipotle relish, or one whole chipotle en adobo and 1 tsp. of the adobo
3 14.5-oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
Broth (vegetable or chicken, about a quart)

Ingredients for the chimolata:
Handful of washed fresh cilantro
3 cloves of garlic
½ tsp. Lime zest
½ tsp. Red pepper flakes
Fresh lime juice

For the soup:
In a large soup pot on medium, add about ¼ c. of water and the onion, carrot and celery. Cook for a few minutes until they start to soften around the edges. Add the remaining ingredients except the broth. Give it a stir, then pour just enough broth over everything to just cover. Too much broth and you’ll have a thin soup.
Simmer for ½ hour or until the veg are tender. Before serving, take the immersion blender to it and blend it all up. I like to leave mine with some chunks of the veg, but do yours how you like.

While the soup is cooking, make the chimolata:
Mince superfine the cilantro and the garlic. Fine, as in almost to a paste.
Add them to a small bowl with the red pepper and lime zest, then add just enough lime juice to actually make it in to a paste. That’s it. (This is going to taste REALLY strong – don’t eat it by itself. Or do, I guess. I’m not the boss of you.)

When the soup’s done, Serve with a dollop of the chimolata. Serious nerms, peeps.

I’ve been forgetting to include the nutritional info of late. Here we go! According to caloriecount.about.com, each of the four servings has:

363 calories
4.2g fat
851 mg. sodium
57.1 g. carbohydrate
17.9g fiber
4.8g sugar
24.1g protein
Plus 17% of your daily calcium, 35% for iron and 26% for potassium.

Caldo de Verduras con Chochoyotes

Hey, now. That was quite the hiaitus. I used up my December creative juices on a tamalada and 80 dozen cookies and was enjoying myself so much I forgot to take pictures. This was great for me, but sad for the blog.
So, happy new year! It’s a cold, grey, windy day for the first time in weeks. Which means soup at our house. Caldo de verduras con chochoyotes, to be precise. (Vegetable soup with corn flour dumplings.)

I can just hear you – cho-cho-what? Funny story, that one. Last fall I was making some veggie soup. I grew up with dumplings on stew, and I started to wonder if they had a similar tradition in Mexico – short answer, yes! And I discovered a really awesome blog in the process! (Go check it out!)
With a really fun-to-say name, this is a double win. How can you not smile when you say chochoyote. I mean, come on!
Ready to play?

Caldo de verduras con chochoyotes
serves: 4-6

For the soup:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
½ small white onion, large dice
3 carrots, peeled and in soup-sized discs
4 ribs celery, in soup-sized chunks
2 zucchini, in soup-sized chunks
3 garlic cloves, coarsly chopped
1 can low sodium diced tomatoes
4 quarts chicken (or vegetable) broth
1/4 packet menudo soup spices Or, about 2 Tbsp. (NOT the ground kind, the dried leafy kind.)
Briefly saute the chopped veg in the oil in a large soup pot. Then add in the tomatoes, broth and spices. Turn to medium-low. This is going to look sparse at first – like a LOT of broth and so few veg. The dumplings will absorb a lot of the liquid, and act as a thickener, too. It will be lovely, swearsies.

Make the masa for the dumplings.
Mix 1 c. masa harina with ½ tsp. salt and ¾ c. warm tap water. This will make a thick crumbly mess. Add 2 Tbsp fat (bacon fat, lard, or crisco – bacon is the best) and with clean hands, knead the dough until it is combined. It should be firm and not sticky, like a play-do consistency. Roll it in to 4 logs about a 1.5” in diameter and 5” long. Cover and set aside at room temp for 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, the soup should be at a bare simmer. After the wait, take one of the masa logs, break it in to 5 even pieces and roll each one in to a ball. With your thumb (or an implement, I used the end of my lemon reamer because fingernail marks in the dumplings sick me out.) But I digress. So, put a dimple in each dough ball so that it looks like a little bowl, and gently place each one in the pot. Gently shake the pot to get them to submerge if needed. Don’t stir – they’re super fragile and will just come apart. Repeat this process until all the dumplings are in the pool.

Keep at a bare simmer for 20-30 mins. The soup will thicken and the dumplings will cook. Check for doneness by taking one out and slicing it in half; it should be the same color all the way through. If there’s an uncooked core, just simmer them for five more minutes and check again.

Serve like any Mexican-style caldo – with lime wedges and hot pepper, some oregano or cilantro , maybe some sliced radish – so everyone can season their bowl to their taste.

If you actually have leftovers of this, they won’t last long. This little bowl of love is like a veggie stew with tamales in it. You are going to LOVE this. I promise.

updated 01.22.18 – add “room temp” to resting the masa.