Black Bean Soup is a Los Angeles staple. More than any soup I’ve encountered Black Bean Soup seems to define the cool season months in this warm season city. It seems everyone I know has a Black Bean Soup recipe. One that usually shows up in my in-box accompanied by a whole list of accolades and declarations.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the enthusiasm my friends show for their recipes, and I appreciate being sent the recipes that I casually compliment. Besides, I particularly like Black Bean Soup, so I usually give each friendly incarnation a read through. I’ve even made quite a few of the versions sent my way. Most of them are very good. But the thing about Black Bean Soup– no matter how good– it’s often a little too brawny and predictable: black beans (check), broth (check), onions, cumin, and red pepper (check, check and done).
However, my checklist was recently shaken up in the most delicious way. I was invited to a casual meal with friends. The host served a Black Bean Soup with a zesty, spicy flavor. It really perked up my palate, so I ran through my mental checklist: black beans (check), broth (check), onions (check). That’s where the standard checklist veered into new territory. I discovered a sunnier disposition than I expected from this wintry Black Bean Soup. The spiciness was easily identifiable– the distinctive, smokey bite of roasted poblano chili peppers. Which is a delicious and particularly Southern California addition to Black Bean Soup. The poblanos pleased me, but hardly surprised me.
What did surprise me was the tomatoey broth. It lent a lighter, brighter texture. Making this a wonderful soup, appropriate to any season here in sunny So Cal.
I was as effusive as I could be, but surprisingly he didn’t offer to send me the recipe. Eventually I found the recipe in Bon Appétit. I made a few changes to suit my tastes, and present my loosely adapted version here. GREG