Brazillian Blackbean Soup

This is one is from Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook (1977). Spoilers: The secret ingredient is OJ; the secret procedure requires a blender! Serves 6-8


• 2 cups dry black beans, soaked
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 2 cups onions, chopped (about 1.5 large onions)
• 10 medium garlic cloves, crushed
• 2 tablespoons cumin
• 2-2 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 1 medium carrot, diced
• 1 medium bell pepper, diced
• 1 1/2 cups orange juice (squeeze your own, and then add the chunks of orange to the soup for extra texture and sweetness)
• black pepper
• cayenne
• 2 diced tomatoes (optional)
• sour cream (optional)
• cilantro (optional)
• salsa (optional)


  1. Soak beans in plenty of water for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight; I pressure-cook; but a couple cans are okay in a pinch).
  2. Place the soaked beans in a kettle or Dutch oven with 4 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until tender (about 1.25 hours).
  3. Heat olive oil in a medium sized skillet. Add chopped onion, 5 crushed cloves garlic, cumin, salt, and carrot. Sauté over medium heat until the carrot is just tender. Add remaining garlic and the bell pepper. Sauté until everything is very tender (10-15 mins). Add the sautéed mixture to the beans, scraping in every last morsel. (That is exactly how Mollie puts it, and I never forget it.)
  4. Stir in orange juice, black pepper and cayenne to taste, and optional tomatoes. Purée all or some of the soup in a blender and return to kettle. Simmer over very low heat 10 to 15 minutes more. Serve topped with an artful arrangement of sour cream, cilantro, and salsa.

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