Friday, September 28, 2012

Black Bean Soup with Bananas

Yes, you read that title right. It's weird, I know, but let me just tell you something...when you watch Jacques Pepin cook, even if it sounds a little weird, you try it. Why? Because the man knows flavors and how they work together. He knows how to take basic ingredients like black beans, onions, tomatoes and bananas (among other things) and blend it into a luscious, mouth-watering soup that will have you clamoring back to the pot for another bowl, just like my bean-hating son, Micah, did. I can hear you now...bananas? With black beans? I asked the same question, but put it out of your mind and try it. You won't regret it!!

Black Bean Soup with Bananas (via Jacques Pepin)
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

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.


  1. I was just looking through to print this recipe and another one - I got to thinking this sounds a bit Brazilian. We go to a breakfast place in Santa Cruz called Cafe Brasil and they do a lot of black bean dishes that also have bananas. Some don't - but some do and this reminded me of that. We typically get Orfeu Negro - black beans on a baguette topped with soft poached egg and mozarella. Anyways - this made me think of it.

  2. Oh my gosh, B, that sounds amazing!!! I may make that at home!