A few weeks ago, a friend of mine got braces for her second time. Having had braces twice myself, I’m well aware of the pain of the first few weeks. When I had my second set of braces at age 40, it took three weeks for me to be able to chew mashed potatoes and refried beans.
So I called me friend to see if she’d like a few servings of a protein-rich puréed soup. She was delighted, and mentioned that she hadn’t made black beans in a while and would love some black bean soup.
I’ve made black bean soup many times, most often using Southwestern flavoring—cumin, coriander, chili powder, cilantro and even orange slices. I decided to try something different this time. It turns out that there’s also a black bean soup tradition along the Atlantic Seaboard. I made a big pot of this soup and delivered two servings to my friend and her partner, and kept a couple servings for myself and my partner. It was quite excellent.
I found this soup in The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. The flavoring—cloves, dry mustard and lemon—was just right. There are instructions below for cooking with or without a pressure cooker.
Boston Black Bean Soup
- 1-1/2 cups dried black beans, picked over and soaked overnight
- 3 tablespoons butter or oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup diced celery
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 cup half-and-half, milk or nut milk (I used cashew milk)
- freshly milled pepper
- 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- lemon slices, pierced with a clove
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1 hard-cooked egg, diced (I used one egg, sliced in half and diced for my partner and me)
Put It Together:
- Rinse the beans and set them aside.
- In a wide soup pot, over medium heat, melt the butter or oil and add the onion, bay leaves, celery and garlic.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has browned around the edges, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the mustard and ground cloves, add the beans and 8 cups water, and bring to a boil.
- Lower heat, cover, and cook at a gentle boil, partially covered, until the beans are soft but not quite done, about 45 minutes. Add the salt and continue to cook until the beans are fully tender about 30 minutes more.
- To cook the beans in a pressure cooker, rinse them well, put in the pot, and cover with 8 cups water and 2 teaspoons salt. Put on the lid, brig to pressure, and maintain on high for 25 minutes. Release the pressure quickly and check the beans. They should be done, or nearly so. Add the beans to the cooked onions.
- Remove from heat, let cool briefly, and, working in batches if necessary, purée the soup in a blender until smooth.
- Return to the pot, stir in the milk and season to taste with pepper and lemon juice. Reheat to serving temperature.
- To serve, lay a clove-pierced lemon slice on each bowl of soup and scatter the parsley and diced egg over the top.