Hearty southwestern black bean soup with tomatillos, corn, and tomatoes, topped with avocado, lime, cilantro, and sour cream.
I was all set to go yesterday. I knew what I'd write about. The photo was ready – or well, as ready as it was going to be. A beautiful frittata I made last week with fresh peak-season veggies I'd made several times in my new frittata pan to get just right. I sat down at the computer, wrote up a post, attached the photo, and then couldn't find my notes on the recipe itself.
I looked everywhere for those notes. When I have an idea of something I want to make, I take notes. I write down everything I do, from the ingredients to the order of the them, how they're prepped, and how they're added. Everything, in short, that can affect flavor and texture. Afterwards, I decide if something needs to be changed, something added, something eliminated for the next round. Every once in a while I get it right on the first or second try. Sometimes it takes weeks. I have a coffee mocha ice cream using coconut milk I've been working on for months. My husband and I tire of it, it slides to the back burner, and I pick it up again later with a fresh palate and perspective.
My problem (if I'm honest, one of many) is I don't have a system for writing down those notes. Sometimes I use a notebook (one of at least four that I'm using at any given time), sometimes a scrap of paper that's handy because I don't feel like looking for one of said notebooks. My iPad, my Mac, and iPhone are three other options frequently used – I could do an ad for Apple, which is hysterical to anyone who reads this and knows me well enough to know I came kicking and screaming to using all these electronic devices.
I could blame it on the fact that we're shuttling between Tahoe and the Bay Area every week, spending most of the week here in Tahoe. Whatever I need at any given time is always at the other house. And while the physical reality of moving around doesn't help, it really only highlights the need TO GET A SYSTEM. One I can stick with. So that my life doesn't feel as scattered as it is.
You will see that lovely little frittata at some point, I'm sure the notes will turn up, but it won't be today. Instead I thought I'd share a black bean soup I made over the weekend that was just killer. Black beans have a starring role, to be sure, but they're balanced with tomatillos, corn, tomatoes and avocado. It's a hearty and flavorful soup, but isn't the same without a topping of chipotle sour cream, lime juice and cilantro. I know this because I have the notes right here in front of me 🙂
Southwestern Black Bean Soup with Tomatillos and Corn
- 1 poblano chili pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/4 cups chopped white onion
- 3/4 cup husked + quartered tomatillos
- 1 cup corn kernels, frozen or cut from 1 large ear of corn
- 2 cups cooked black beans, or 1 (15-oz) can
- 1/4 cup tomato puree
- 1 large tomato, coarsely chopped
- 1 2/3 cup vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1 lime, sliced into wedges
- 2 avocados, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1/3 cup chopped cilantro, optional
- 1/3 cup sour cream, optional
- Roast the poblano pepper under the broiler until the skin is blackened all over, turning the pepper as needed. Place in a paper bag for five minutes. Peel, chop off the top, open up and remove all the seeds. Coarsely chop and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a medium heavy pot over medium-high heat. I use a Le Creuset. Add the onion and tomatillos and sauté until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the corn kernels and sauté another two minutes.
- Stir in the chopped roasted poblano pepper, chopped tomato, black beans, tomato puree and broth. Simmer for 15 minutes.
- Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until you reach the consistency you like. For me, it's about 10 buzzes of the blender as I move it around the pot. This step is entirely optional. If you like a chunky bean soup, omit this step and proceed to the next one.
- Stir in the lime juice to taste and add salt if needed. If you use Better Than Bouillon for your vegetable broth, you likely won't need to add any additional salt.
- Prepare the toppings: slice the lime into wedges, slice the avocados, chop the cilantro, and stir together the sour cream and chipotle. Serve with the soup.