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This recipe evolved from a large can of refried black beans that has been in my pantry for awhile.  One day it struck me that refried beans would be the perfect ingredient for wonderful, blender-less, black bean soup.  Because they are already mashed up.  For the past week or so I have been daydreaming about how to make them into a soup.  And today I did it.

So armed with an onion, the can, and a couple of limes I set out to make the soup. And it’s pretty dang amazing, even though it’s made without stock or even (gasp) alcohol (if I had had it on hand, I would have added a hefty dose of sherry, light beer, or white wine to this, see below).

The ingredients and directions are not what you would call precise in any sense of the word.  When I made this I didn’t have a recipe and didn’t measure a single thing.  Soups are wonderfully forgiving– just add the spices and salt a little at a time and you should be fine.

Ingredients

1 onion (about 1-2 cups) finely chopped

3-4 cups water (or vegetable or chicken stock; or half beer, half water; or half beer, half stock; or half white wine, half water; or a third stock, a third sherry, a third water….. any proportion of these liquids will work. I made this with ONLY water, and it worked better than I expected.  But a cup of Corona would have gone a long way here, too)

some garlic cloves (I used about 6– use a lot, especially if you are using only water and don’t have the extra flavor of a stock or some alcohol)

1 30 oz.  can of refried black beans (or the equivalent quantity, about 1 lb. of regular, cooked black beans, if that’s what you have– you will just need to blend the soup a little at the end)

some cayenne pepper, black pepper, salt, and cumin to taste

2 or 3 limes

1. heat some olive oil or butter in a large pan and cook onions in 2 batches until slightly browned but not burned (maybe about 10 minutes on medium? I cooked these in two batches because I wanted the onions to brown, and it’s easier to do that if they are not too crowded in the pan.)

2. When the first batch is finished, transfer the cooked onions to your soup pot, add your water/liquid, and bring to a low boil while the second batch of onions is cooking.  Add the garlic to the second batch when the onions are really toasty and are getting a little brown.  Stir another minute or two, and add those onions and garlic to the soup pot. (If you have a big soup pot and want to do the whole thing in one pot, you can just cook all the onions together, add the garlic, and then add the liquid all in the same pot!)

3. Reduce heat and add beans, bring back to a low boil for a few minutes, and then cook on medium-low, stirring often, for about 1 hour. Add cumin, ground pepper, a little salt, and lime juice.

4. Take the soup off the heat and let it rest 15 minutes before serving.  Serve with lime wedges, shredded cheese, fried tortilla pieces, a dollop of sour cream or salsa, etc.

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