J-R Black Bean Soup

This is a recipe that I made up and LOVE. It was modeled after (I'm a hint embarrassed to say) Panera's black bean soup. My office in Chicago was down the block from a Panera, and their black bean soup was about the only vegetarian thing there that didn't have a million calories (I loved their asiago bagels until I learned that plain with no cream cheese they have 330 calories- with the cream cheese- something like 700 ;)

Anyway, if they have Paneras in L.A., we're no where near one, so I decided to make my own black bean soup. This is also a great end of the week dish when you have 1/2 of an onion, bits of bell peppers, etc. left in the fridge and need a use for them.

Black Bean Soup (makes 4-6 servings)

2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 6oz. can tomato paste
2 stalks celery, chopped small
2 medium carrots, chopped small
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped small
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped small
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped small
1 T canola oil
1 1/2 T chili powder
1 t cumin
salt to taste
1 t ground black pepper
1/4 t ground red pepper
*great with crusty bread

Sautée the onions, celery and carrots in oil until all is soft and onion is translucent. Add garlic, sautée another minute or so. Add the beans,broth, tomato paste and spices (all but the bell peppers). Bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour. Add peppers and simmer another hour. The long cooking time lets everything get married and taste delicious.

20 minutes prep, 2 hours cooking.