Black Bean Soup with Bananas

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From the Essential Pépin tv series, Episode 120: Souper Soups For Supper

I have created several versions of black bean soup through the years, but this one, flavored with pancetta and finished with bananas, ranks at the top of my list of favorites. —Jacques Pépin

Serves 8 to 10

1 pound dried black or turtle beans
3 quarts water
1/2 cup brown rice
8 ounces pancetta or very lean unsmoked or lightly smoked bacon
2 medium onions (12 ounces), cut into 1-inch pieces
8 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped (1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon salt (less if the pancetta or bacon is salty)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce

2 bananas
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro


Remove and discard any damaged beans or debris, and wash the remaining beans well in cool water. Drain the beans, place them in a bowl, cover with cold water, and soak for 3 hours.

Drain the beans, put them in a stainless steel pot with the 3 quarts water, and add the rice. Cut the pancetta or bacon into 1/4-inch cubes and add them to the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, uncovered (this will take about 20 minutes), stirring occasionally. Skim off and discard any foam that rises to the top. Reduce the heat to very low, cover, and cook for 1 hour.

Add the onions, garlic, herbes de Provence, chili powder, tomatoes, and salt to the pot, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to very low, cover, and cook for 1 1/2 hours.

Using a hand blender, emulsify the mixture in the pot for 5 to 10 seconds. (Alternatively, remove 2 cups of the mixture, puree it in a food processor, and return it to the pot.) You want to thicken the mixture slightly while still maintaining its overall chunkiness.

Mix together the oil, vinegar, and Tabasco in a small bowl, and add to the soup.

JUST BEFORE SERVING, PREPARE THE GARNISHES: Peel the bananas and cut them into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Toss them in a small bowl with the lemon juice and pepper.

Divide the hot soup among four bowls. Top with the banana slices, sprinkle on the cilantro, and serve.

Copyright © 2011 by Jacques Pépin. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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