Black Bean Soup

Winner of the Peapod Pantry Recipe of the Month Contest, December 1997

                4   cans                    black beans (or 1 lb. dry black beans,

                                                     soaked overnight in water to cover)
          2   teaspoon             salt if using dry beans-none needed for canned beans
          2   Tablespoons       olive oil
          3   medium              onions, chopped
       1-2   cloves                 garlic, minced
          1   small can            chopped green chilies
          2                              roasted red peppers*, seeded and chopped
          1   medium can       tomatoes (about 15 oz)
          1   teaspoon             crushed marjoram
          1   teaspoon             oregano
                                          cayenne pepper (optional, to taste)

for toppings:                      cheese, sour cream, chopped onions, salsa

1.   If using dry beans, rinse, cover again with fresh water, add 2 teaspoons salt and cook until tender, about 2 hours.   Sautee chopped onion and garlic in olive oil about 5 minutes. Combine cooked beans and their cooking water (or canned) with onions, green chilies, roasted red peppers, canned tomatoes and their juice, and spices.  Simmer on low for about an hour until flavors are blended.

2.   Puree the soup and return to pot to cook on low until desired thickness.  This soup can also be made in the crock pot.  Cook combined soup ingredients on high with lid slightly ajar for about an hour.  Puree and return to crock pot on high with lid off to thicken.

3.   Serve with desired toppings. Leftovers can be used in burritos.

* Roasted red peppers can usually be found in jars at the grocery, or they are easy to make.  Just take a fresh red pepper, lay it on the grill, or the gas burner of your range, or under the broiler. Let the skin char, turning it so it becomes black all over.  This takes about five minutes.  Place in a bowl to cool, scrape off charred skin, cut open and remove seeds and membranes.  Use in soups, pasta dishes or on subs.