Spicy Black Bean Soup finished with Jamaican Rum
Whatever the season, there's always a good reason to make a spicy soup, and this Spicy Black Bean Soup finished with rum is an excellent choice.
Before I tell you about the soup, however, I have a confession. I use canned beans...a lot. Yes, I can make bean soups from dried beans, and sometimes that's the best way. But more often than not, I want to get the soup made quickly, and canned beans are really quite good. Furthermore, they can cut a couple of hours off the preparation time; and let's not forget the overnight soaking required for most dried beans.
For this soup, begin with a mirepoix of one whole yellow onion, one carrot, one stalk of celery, and as much red bell pepper (capsicum) as you like, everything diced, of course. Set your soup pot on medium low heat, add a splash of extra virgin olive oil, then add the mirepoix. Stir, cover, and sweat the vegetables for about five minutes. If you have it, I recommend a fused blood orange olive oil.
Add two quarts or liters of stock, either vegetable or chicken. Open two cans of black beans, drain them, and add them to the soup pot along with a whole orange, pierced. Be sure to wash the orange thoroughly. Let the soup simmer about 20 minutes while the flavors combine, then remove the orange and squeeze some of the juice into the pot.
Orange and black bean is an excellent flavor pairing because the orange provides sweetness plus some acid to brighten flavors. If you use orange juice rather than a whole orange, be very gentle because the liquid will reduce somewhat, concentrating the flavors, and juice can become bitter rather quickly.
Back to the soup. While it's simmering, quickly sauté some chorizo. Drain it if you wish, but I like the additional fat in an otherwise virtually fat-free soup. After removing the orange, add the sautéed chorizo to the soup. Let the flavors marry, then taste and adjust the seasoning. I find that chorizo adds enough salt and spice, but you might disagree.
Finish the soup by adding a shot or two of rum. I prefer Jamaican rum, but that's just a taste preference. If you'll be serving this soup right away to young ones, you may want to let it simmer a few minutes to burn off the alcohol. Taste once more and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
One thing I really like about making a large pot of this soup is that I can use it for other things. For example, start with some cooked rice—if you have some roasted corn handy, add it—then add enough soup to flavor the rice, spread it in a baking dish, spoon on a layer of whatever salsa is handy, and bake it until thoroughly heated. I like to add cod or snapper covered with the same salsa and make a Southwestern-style baked fish and rice supper. If you make a large batch of the rice, it freezes well, or you can use it in burritos.