Beans. Yet another staple food that raises opinions from both sides. I had to research a little.

Beans are legumes, a class of vegetables that include peas and lentils. From one side they are unconditionally nutritious. High fiber, source of protein, low in fat, no cholesterol, high in folate (a B vitamin), potassium, iron and magnesium. An alternative to meat. Not to mention they are core to many cuisines.

Downside? Chiefly from Paleo thinkers, and a touch more complex. Legumes contain phytic acid, which (some say) interferes you from absorbing nutrients into your body. A little is OK, even healthful in small amounts, I’ve read, but it’s better to stick with meat and veggies.

As a non-Paleo, I’m keeping some beans and other legumes in my diet. To discard them would miss their nutrition, tastes and cultural histories too much — so long as their access is moderate.  In this hearty soup, the star is the black bean, whose jet-black skin covers a light, cream-colored flesh with a unique, earthy, almost mushroom-like flavor. Great for lunch. Thanks Sarah Dickerman.

Black Bean Soup with Poblano Chiles

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 2 poblano chiles
  • 1 large dried pasilla or ancho chile, stemmed, seeds removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
  • 1 14.5 oz. can fire-roasted or plain diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 14.5 oz. cans black beans, drained
  • ½ cup crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese
  • Lime wedges (for serving)

 

Preheat broiler. Broil poblano chiles on a foil-lined baking sheet, turning occasionally, until blackened, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let steam 15 minutes. Peel, seed, and finely chop.

Meanwhile, toast pasilla chile in a skillet until slightly darkened and pliable, about 1 minute; transfer to plate.

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and golden brown, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to a blender, add tomatoes and pasilla chile, and blend until smooth.

Return tomato mixture to saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until thick, 6–8 minutes. Stir in broth; season with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until soup is slightly thickened, 10–15 minutes. Stir in black beans and poblano chiles. Cook, stirring occasionally, until warmed through, about 5 minutes.

Serve soup topped with queso fresco or feta cheese and lime wedges alongside.