Black Bean Soup - with Lime Cilantro Inlay

A dollop of sour cream in each bowl gets them purring like pussy cats.

INGREDIENTS:
For the Soup:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 slices Tyrolean bacon, diced (about 1/8 inch thick)
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
1/4 teaspoon Chipotle chili powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons chopped, de-seeded jalapeño chile
2 or 3 15 to 19-ounce cans black beans, un-drained
1 28 - ounce can diced tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup sour cream (optional)

For the Inlay:
2/3 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
2 green onions, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, sliced goodfellas thin
juice of two limes
1/8 cup olive oil

YIELD: 8 to 10 generous servings

COURSE: Soups and Stews

CUISINE: Mexican

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Saute bacon for about 2 minutes. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic; sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 6 minutes. Mix in salt, cumin, oregano, Chipotle powder, black pepper and jalapeño. Add beans, tomatoes with juice, and Chicken broth; bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook until carrots are tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer 3-4 cups of soup to blender and puree until smooth. Return puree to pot. Add the lime zest and sour cream if using. Simmer soup until slightly thickened, about 10 more minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper.
  2. To make the Inlay: Put all ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor. Turn on, drizzle olive oil in until an emulsion is formed. You are done.
    Alternate topping: Queso fresco cheese, crumbled.
    Another alternate topping:
    2 corn tortillas, cut into fine stripes
    ¼ cup vegetable oil (to fry the tortillas)
    Avocado, for garnish
    Heat the oil in a large skillet and fry the tortilla strips. Remove and place over paper towels to absorb any excess oil. Place on top of the soup when serving.