Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cocoa Infused Black Bean Soup


      I'm always on the lookout for new ways to use black beans. I love them - cheap, versatile - Clean. Last week, I ran across this recipe for cocoa infused black bean soup in a freebie magazine a grocery store was giving away. I was instantly intrigued. I know the depth of flavor cocoa adds to things like chili. I immediately suspected cocoa would be amazing in a black bean soup. After some investigation, I discovered the identical recipe online, with multiple different attributions - the February 2011 VegNews magazine, the February 2011 issue of Delicious Living ( another grocery store freebie mag ), and several sites with the identical recipe ( and photograph! ) but no attribution at all. So to whoever first thought of this? I thank you!

     Confused about Dutch process cocoa versus regular cocoa?  Dutch-process, or “Dutched,” cocoa has been treated with alkali to tone down cocoa’s natural acids. The result is a smooth taste, a beautiful dark reddish-brown color, and a velvety texture that dissolves easily in liquids (however, it contains fewer antioxidants than regular cocoa). In baked goods, Dutched cocoa is not necessarily interchangeable
with regular cocoa powder, which is full flavored and more acidic. ( I don't think "Dutch Process" cocoa is too processed to eat. It makes the naturally slightly bitter cocoa silky smooth. )

Cocoa Infused Black Bean Soup

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, diced
3 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 cup no-salt-added tomato purée
2 low-sodium vegetable bouillon cubes
4 cups water
1 (25-ounce) can low-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa
1/2 teaspoon+ freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon+ smoked paprika (or hot paprika)
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro ( optional )

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat and add onion, bay leaves, and salt. Stir occasionally until onions are softened, 4–5 minutes. Add celery, carrots, and green pepper and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until all vegetables are softened, 7–8 minutes. Add tomato purée, bouillon cubes, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, or until vegetables are very tender.

2. Remove bay leaves. Stir in beans, cocoa, pepper, and paprika and return to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro and serve.