1 pound black beans, picked over and rinsed

¼ cup canola oil

1 large yellow onion, diced

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons pure chile powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon Mexican oregano

Generous pinch cayenne pepper

3 quarts chicken broth

½ cup sour cream

¼ cup milk

1 ripe Hass avocado

Juice of 1 lime

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup minced cilantro

 

Place the beans into a large bowl and add enough water to cover by several inches. Cover with plastic wrap and let soak overnight at room temperature.

 

Drain the beans. Heat a large, heavy pot over medium heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pot. Add the onion and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Stir in the chile powder, cumin, Mexican oregano, and cayenne. Add the broth and beans. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about an hour and 15 minutes, or until the beans are cooked through.

 

Meanwhile, whisk together the sour cream and milk in a small bowl. Halve, pit, peel, and dice the avocado. Remove the soup from the heat and puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Stir in the lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into individual bowls, top with plenty of avocado and cilantro, and drizzle with the sour cream mixture. Serve immediately.      

 

Serves 8. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a regular blender but remember: never fill a blender more than half way with hot liquid. This means you will need to blend the soup in batches and reheat it before serving. This soup is also delicious topped with crumbled cotija cheese. For a simple yet delicious meal, serve with Mexican Rice, either on the side or stirred right in. Feel free to substitute vegetable broth or water if you prefer a vegetarian soup. Dried Mexican oregano, which has a unique floral character, can be found at some gourmet grocers and (usually for less than a dollar) at any Mexican market. If you can’t find it, just omit it from the recipe; don’t substitute common oregano.