Saturday, October 16, 2010

Chorizo and Black Bean Soup with Avocado Cream

This is black bean soup at it's finest. I recently had a black bean soup at Winonas, a local restaurant in our area and it was very good. So good that when I came back with a friend I ordered it again, had her try it and together we tried to figure out what was in it. After some debate we settled on the fact that there must be a huge amount of jack cheese in it to get that kind of flavor and texture. A heck of a lot. Figures. The reason someone (me) would make black bean soup at home is because it's supposed to be healthy. If it's not, why would I waste precious calories and dairy intake on black bean soup? Bring on the French onion, the garlic cheesy mashed potatoes with a cup of cream, but bean soup. You get what I'm saying? I like black bean soup alright, but it A) better taste good and B) Not be riddled with calories. I'll save that for another meal, thank you. Or even better, dessert!

This soup fits my criteria perfectly. There is just enough heft and background flavor from the fat of the smokey chorizo and just enough richness from the avocado cream (which contains a bit of sour cream) to elevate this soup to a whole new level. It's good and warming and satisfying all the while being healthy for you (well, about that...I took the pretty picture with the chorizo rounds as garnish on this soup just as the recipe says to do, but before I ate it, I took them off, thus making the dish that much healthier). If you are a meat eater, go ahead and leave it on, but if you don't mind you can leave it off without missing anything. All it's flavor is in the soup anyway and doesn't need it to carry any flavors. If you are not a wasteful person this will be hard for you because it means all you will use the package of chorizo for is to render it's fat and since the recipe calls for Spanish chorizo, it's not a whole lot. Worth it though. Very worth it.

Please make sure and buy Spanish chorizo (or Italian sausage or Kielbasa will work too) and not Mexican chorizo. Spanish chorizo tends to be clean, containing only respectable parts of the pig while the Mexican variety can contain nasty things like lymph nodes, as my friend Danielle found out earlier this week. That's all I'm saying on that. Buy Spanish people! Spanish! If the label does not distinguish clearly, it's easy to tell which specimen you have. Mexican chorizo will be squishy, look like ground beef and render TONS of fat. Spanish chorizo is sausage or hot dog like, comes in links and is firm and cured.

Chorizo Black bean Soup with Avocado Cream
adapted from The Rachael Ray Show

Yield: 4 servings

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 pound cured chorizo, casing removed and chopped
1 small onion, chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
2 serrano peppers, seeded and chopped
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
Salt and ground black pepper
3 14-ounce cans black beans, drained
3/4 to 1 quart chicken stock, depending on desired thickness
2 ripe avocados
1/2 cup sour cream
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup (about a handful) cilantro, chopped, for garnish

Place a large saucepan over medium-high heat with 1 turn of the pan of olive oil, about 1 tablespoon. Add the chorizo to the pan and cook until crispy, 4-5 minutes. Remove from pan and reserve.

Add the onion, garlic, serrano, paprika, some salt and pepper to the pan, and cook until the onions are tender, 5-6 minutes. Add the black beans and chicken stock to the pan, and bring the liquids up to a bubble.

Ladle a couple o scoops of the soup into the bowl of a food processor, or blender (I used a stick blender) and process until smooth. Return the pureed soup to the pot and keep warm.

After pureeing the beans rinse the food processor bowl out and return it to the base. Remove the pit from the avocados and scoop them out into the bowl along with the sour cream, lime zest and juice, and process until smooth.

Serve the soup topped some avocado cream and reserved crispy chorizo and cilantro.