Black Bean Soup and Cornbread

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Last weekend my brother came into the city to spend the day with me before he returned to Grinnell to finish out his senior year.  We wandered around Logan Square, drank coffee in the cold, took the train down to Chinatown to eat a delicious lunch and buy tea, and stopped at the grocery store on the way home.  Nick came over and the three of us made a truly satisfying black bean soup and some cornbread with my new cast-iron skillet.

The soup was so delicious that Nick and I made a second pass at it Sunday evening, with a few modifications.

Hearty Black Bean Soup

Generously serves four or five.

Ingredients:

2 Tbl butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 habanero pepper, finely chopped (remove the seeds, if you please)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cubes vegetable bouillon
1 and 1/2 C boiling water
2 15 oz cans black beans, undrained
1 15 oz can pinto beans, undrained
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 Tbl brown sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
the juice of one lime
1 and 1/2 Tbl cornstarch

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In a large stock-pot melt the butter over medium-low heat and add the onion, celery, peppers, and garlic.  Cook until the onion begins to turn translucent. Mix the boullion and boiling water and add to the pot, simmer for about 10 minutes.

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Add the beans, salt, cumin, brown sugar, and black pepper.   Stir well and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes.  In a small glass combine the cornstarch and 1 and 1/2 Tbl of water, stir well.  Add this mixture and the lime juice to the soup, stir well.  Allow to simmer and thicken for about 10 more minutes.  You may now serve the soup or turn the heat to low and allow the flavors to muddle until you are ready to eat.  This soup keeps well for a few days in the refridgerator.  The flavors will become deeper overnight.

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For the skillet cornbread I used the recipe from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking, a book I have been quite pleased with.  The cornbread is delightful dipped in the soup or served warm with butter and honey.

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