I always have bags of beans stashed in my cabinets and have posted other variations of this recipe before.  What makes this one different is that I used my crockpot for it…or rather I used my crockpot for part of this dish.  The recent weather we have been having here in NY has begged almost daily for steaming pots of soups and stews and today was one of those days.  The great thing about black bean soups is that I consistently have all the ingredients on hand to make it.  Black beans are another food that I have come to love over the years as they were  on the “refuse to consume” list when I was young.  I admit, I had all kinds of silly food rules that also included foods that I had never actually tasted before; I just thought I hated them based on sight and embarrassingly, what others disliked (I aimed to please other people wayyy too much).  For example, my dad always said that he hated beans (legumes) and I therefore claimed the same.  Now I can’t get enough of them!  I made this as a vegetarian dish but also cooked up some Applegate Farms andouille sausage separately for the husband.  I served it with a quick avocado cream, Mexican cotija cheese, and sour cream.  Buen provecho!

Black Bean Halfway Crockpot Soup

1 lb. bag of black beans (soak overnight, rinse, drain, and reserve)
1-2 tblsp. olive oil
1 x-large red onion, peeled and chopped
2 red peppers, seeded and chopped
4 garlic cloves, grated or chopped fine
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 chipotle in adobo sauce pepper, chopped
1 tblsp. cumin
1 tblsp. ancho chili powder (or whatever you have on hand)
6 cups low/no salt vegetable stock
2 cups water
1 tblsp. of maple syrup
juice of 1/2 to 1 whole lime
salt to taste as chili cooks in slowcooker (I add a 1/2 teaspoon at a time)

In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium-high heat and add onions, red peppers, jalapeno, garlic, and saute until onion translucent and fragrant, about 8 minutes.  Add in chipotle in adobo sauce and then add in the cumin and chili powder.  Stir to combine and let cook for another 5 minutes or so.  If you want, you could deglaze the pan with some beer or coffee (about 1/2 cup).  Take the vegetables off the heat.  Pour the soaked black beans into the crockpot and add in the sauteed vegetables and then the vegetable broth.  Turn the crockpot on low and cook for 6 hours.  While it is cooking or toward the end of the cooking start tasting for salt and add it in a teaspoon at a time until it is to your taste.  Puree about half of it and add in the lime juice just before serving.

Avocado Cream

1 avocado
4 oz. sour cream or plain yogurt
juice of 1/2 lemon/lime
1 tblsp. water
salt and pepper to taste

Blend till smooth in a blender or food processor or use your immersion blender like I did.  Serve on top of chili.

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