Every once in a while when we go down to the beach and see tourists posing for pictures as the sun sinks into the ocean we pinch ourselves and think "Wow... how lucky are we to live in a place were so many people go on vacation?" While I don't spend nearly enough time at the beach, I really like knowing it is there, just a mile and a half away. Somehow, knowing that I can leave my congested bumper to bumper freeway, crowded shopping mall or busy dance center and look out at that expanse of water and know that no one else is out there (well, except for the fishermen, military ships and occasional cruise vessel) makes me feel less hurried and more balanced. I am able to maintain a semblance of peace with the crowd behind me, but not all around me. I love to feel the sun on my face as the warm ocean breezes keep me cool.
Sun, that is the magic elusive word. For the last two weeks we have experienced a deep marine layer that is sometimes referred to here in San Diego as the May Gray or the June Gloom. As you can see by those references, the gray is supposed to be here in May, or June. Not July! Not having seen the sun for weeks is beginning to wear a bit thin and to be honest, I'm feeling quite grumpy. Reading so many other blogs with stories of their sunny summer days, iced pops, ice cream, lemonade refreshments, etc is making me downright envious. What I would give for a good, sunny and hot, sweltering day!
To cure my blues and warm up my chilly bones (OK, it is 70º, but I'm still cold!) I perused my books for a good soup and settled on this Black Bean Soup. I first made the recipe some three or four years ago and had completely forgotten about it. My notes say that it was met with approval from my "I like lots of flavor" husband and that it was definitely a keeper. With my recent bounty of heirloom tomatoes waiting to be used, the salsa also seemed to fit our sunless summer mood and I got to chopping.
The soup goes together easily for one of those last minute decision meals and you can chop the salsa ingredients while the soup simmers away. I use an immersion blender before serving to thicken the soup slightly. I do like full beans in my soup so I am careful not to over puree to get that perfect hearty consistency I'm looking for. Sour cream adds a touch of creaminess that is topped with the flavorful, summer (without sun...) salsa.
The weather guy is promising a bit of a break in the clouds tomorrow. With our Jr. Lifeguard session in full swing, I know the kids will welcome a bit of warmth to go with their chilly morning ocean swims, my dreary zucchini plant will perk up his little leaves and reach for the sky, and I will stick my toes in the warm sand and thank the sun gods for shining on us!
Black Bean Soup
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 cup chicken broth
1 - 2 medium tomatoes (I used my fresh heirlooms!), seeded and chopped
¼ cup red onion, diced
1 small jalapeño, seeded and diced
2 Tbs fresh lime juice
3 Tbs chopped cilantro
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat, add olive oil and chopped yellow onion. Saute until soft, then add garlic, and spices. Stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add drained beans, chicken broth and enough water to generously cover the ingredients. Bring to a simmer.
To make the salsa, chop all ingredients into a medium bowl, season with the lime juice, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings or spiciness as desired.
Simmer soup for approximately 1/2 hour, or until all ingredients are soft. Blend with an immersion blender if desired to your perfect consistency.
Spoon soup into bowls and top with a dollop of sour cream, salsa and diced avocado. Serve with crusty bread and a salad for a hearty, mood enhancing meal.