As I sit at my desk and write this post, the sky is gray and gloomy and the leaves on the two big trees in my yard are finally starting to turn. The owner of my cottage advised me these trees will be cut down next month because the roots are lifting and damaging the wall surrounding the yard. I'm not very happy because they provide nice shade and privacy.
I do like that it's getting chilly at night so I can curl up on the couch in the evenings with a soft, furry throw and then snuggle under my down comforter when I go to bed. I still leave most of the windows open at night and like waking up to the sound of the fog horns or Trapper snoring just outside the patio door. He refuses to sleep inside. It's not warm at all in the house, but I guess he just wants to patrol the yard and sleep in the cooler night air. Every once in a while, usually around 2 a.m., he lets out a few deep barks and then goes back to sleep.
Cooler weather means soup weather. While sipping my coffee yesterday morning, I looked through all the new issues of Bon Appetit, Saveur and Fine Cooking. Of course, most of the content is now devoted to Thanksgiving and holiday features and recipes, and comfort food. One of my holiday desserts will be the Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart on the cover of Fine Cooking. Have you seen it? Oh my, that is most definitely on my list. Saveur's Fall Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash, Kale Chips, and Pomegranate Seeds and Bon Appetit's Wild Rice, Farro and Tangerine Salad are both gorgeous salads for this time of year.
I was in the mood for soup today, and this one started out as Bon Appetit's Black Bean Soup with Roasted Poblano Chiles. It's part of the "Good Health" Thanksgiving Survival Diet, designed to be eaten during the week of Thanksgiving so you don't feel as guilty when indulging on the big day itself. But, since we aren't at that point in time, I was swayed by Dave Lieberman's recipe for Black Bean Soup and had to add some bacon.
The ingredients in the Bon Appetit recipe are few and simple: Low-sodium chicken broth, canned black beans, canned fire-roasted tomatoes, onion, garlic, roasted poblano chiles, and a dried ancho chile. Garnishes are crumbled queso fresco cheese, lime wedges, and toasted pepitas. No bacon. Gotta have some bacon.
Start by roasting the poblano chiles, either under the broiler or over gas flame. While the poblanos are roasting, toast the pepitas and ancho chile.
Next, cook the bacon until it starts to render its fat. Add the onion and garlic, and then the poblanos.
Add the remaining ingredients (broth, tomatoes, beans, ancho chile, ketchup, Worcestershire, and cumin) and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Again, I kind of merged Bon Appetit's and Dave Lieberman's recipes together. I did not blend the onions, garlic, tomatoes and ancho chile in a blender. I used a little less chicken broth so I would have a thicker soup. If you want a thinner soup, add more chicken broth or even a cup of beer. Definitely squeeze some lime juice over the top. The toasted pepitas and queso fresco cheese are really nice garnishes. I also nibbled on a few pumpkin flavored tortilla chips.
Black Bean & Bacon Soup with Roasted Poblano Chiles
2 poblano chiles
1/4 cup raw shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 large dried ancho chile
6 slices thick bacon, sliced crosswise into thin strips
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 14.5 ounce can fire-roasted, diced tomatoes
2 14.5 ounce cans black beans, drained but not rinsed
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco
Preheat broiler. Broil poblano chiles on a foil-lined baking sheet, turning occasionally, until blackened, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let steam 15 minutes. Peel, seed, and finely chop (I prefer to roast the chiles over the gas flame on top of the stove)
Meanwhile, toast the pumpkin seeds in a small dry skillet over medium-high heat, tossing occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes; transfer to a plate. Toast the ancho chile in same skillet until slightly darkened and pliable, about 1 minute; transfer to plate. When the ancho chile is cool enough to handle, cut off the stem and tear open the chile so you can remove the seeds. Discard the stem and seeds. Leave the chile in one or two large pieces and set aside.
Heat a large heavy pot over medium heat and add the bacon. Saute until it starts to render its fat, about 5 minutes. Stir in the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in the chopped poblano chiles and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, cumin, and ancho chile. Stir in the beans, turn the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat down so the soup is bubbling gently and cook 10 minutes. Remove and discard the ancho chile. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve soup topped with crumbled queso fresco, toasted pepitas and lime wedges.