Black beans, often served in a soup or stew, have been a mainstay of Mexican cuisine for thousands of years. Black-bean soup is also popular in the Caribbean, where rum, sherry, or peppered wine is often added toward the end of cooking. We add the sherry somewhat earlier in this version, which combines elements of both traditions.
Food & Wine JANUARY 1998
1. Combine 3 cups of the beans and 1 cup of chicken broth in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.
2. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the onion and 1 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat, add the sherry, and boil until reduced to approximately 1/4 cup, about 3 minutes.
3. Add the bean puree, 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper, and the remaining 3 cups of chicken broth and 3 cups of beans. Simmer until hot, about 5 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the avocados, cilantro, radishes, lime juice, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Mix gently. Spoon the soup into bowls and top with the salsa.
Wine Recommendation: Don't forget about sherries when considering wines for the table. They work particularly well with soups, especially when sherry is an ingredient already. With this black-bean soup, a dry amontillado is a natural.
Notes: If the radishes aren't perfectly crisp, soak them in a bowl of ice water. A few minutes of shock may be just enough to revive them.
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