Roasted Vegetable Black Bean Soup


1 Large Onion
1 Clove Garlic
2-3 Carrots
1 Sweet Red Pepper
4 Roma Tomatoes
2 cans Black Beans
1 qt Chicken Stock
1 Tbs Oregano
2 Tbs Olive Oil

Roasting the vegetables for this soup adds a depth of flavor that elevates this Black Bean soup well above the many others I've tried. The carrots and onion and garlic all sweeten in flavor and tomatoes lose their acidic edge in the roasting oven. And if you happen to be cooking something else one night, it's easy to slip in this pan of vegetables along with your roast or casserole or whatever and the next day you'll have them ready for your soup. 

Peel and chop the carrots into thirds. Halve the tomatoes. Take the onion and sweet red pepper down to rough chunks about 1-2 inches square. They don't have to be pretty - we're just roasting now. And peel but leave the garlic clove whole. 

Now spread everything out on an oiled pan and drizzle a bit more olive oil on top. You'll need a total of about 2 Tbs of oil. Sprinkle with about 1 Tbs of dried oregano, unless you're lucky enough to have fresh. Salt and pepper the whole lot and slide it into the 350 oven. It will need about 30-45 minutes to soften up and brown a little here and there. When the carrots are cooked through everything else should be ready. About half way through cooking give everything a turn with the spatula.

For the soup, reserve 1/2 can of the black beans, add the rest to a quart of chicken stock in a large stockpot and bring to a simmer.

If you've just cooked the vegetables (rather than the day before) you'll need to let them cool a bit so you can handle them enough to chop them up. I take out the carrots and chop into a fine dies and set them aside for now. Everything else will be puréed and the carrots added back later. But everything else goes into a heap on my cutting board and gets a rough chop before dropping it into the soup. Once it is all bubbling nicely, for the puree here's the highly complicated way to make it happen: Stick a handblender in there are give it a whirl. Done.

Take it down to whatever level of creamy blended soup you want. I like a little something to bite on so I don't blend it into oblivion. Finally, add the carrots and remaining beans and let it simmer along for 20 minutes or so for the flavors to meld. Taste and correct seasonings if needed - a little more salt or pepper or even a pinch of sugar. Sometime I add a tablespoon of chicken soup base to enrich. Now ladle it up and give it a dollop of sour cream or sprinkle of cheese and enjoy!