Cuban Black Bean Soup From Fountain on Locust

As appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Yield: 6 large servings or 8 medium bowls

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ medium green pepper, seeded and diced in a 3/8-inch cut

½ yellow or white onion — not sweet — peeled and diced in a 3/8-inch cut

½ cup diced carrot pieces (3/8-inch cut)

¼ cup diced red roasted peppers

1 ½ teaspoons minced garlic

2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, approximately 4 cups, drained and rinsed

4 cups vegetable broth

1 cup crushed tomatoes

¾ teaspoon ground cumin

½ to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, to taste

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon chili powder

1 tablespoon malt vinegar

2 cups cooked rice

½ cup sour cream (optional)

Notes: At the Fountain on Locust, most soups are made a day ahead of serving to allow the flavors to blend.

• The Fountain serves this soup over rice and garnishes it with sour cream. The soup is vegetarian; vegan if no sour cream is added.

1. Pour olive oil into a large 4- or 5-quart heavy-bottom pan. Swirl to coat the bottom, then place over medium-high heat until the oil begins to shimmer.

2. Add chopped green pepper, onions, carrots and roasted red peppers, stir to blend, reduce heat to medium and cook until vegetables begin to soften. Add minced garlic, stir, and cook 1 minute longer.

3. Add drained and rinsed beans, broth, tomatoes, cumin, red pepper flakes, black pepper and chili powder. Stir to blend and simmer until done. If needed, add more broth to the soup to achieve desired consistency.

4. Remove from heat and allow to cool a little. Stir in the malt vinegar.

5. Divide rice evenly into bowls. Ladle soup over the rice. If desired, add a dollop of sour cream for garnish and serve.