South of the Border Black Bean Soup

2 slices bacon, chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped carrot
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
2 cans (15 oz. each) black beans, drained
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) clear chicken broth
1 tbsp. lime juice
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
Chili Pesto, recipe follows
Tomato-Corn Salsa, recipe follows

In 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain. Spoon off all but 1 tablespoon drippings. In hot drippings, cook carrot, celery and onion until tender. In covered blender or food processor, blend cooked vegetables, 1-1/2 cans of the beans and 1 cup of the broth until smooth. Return bean mixture to saucepan. Add remaining beans, remaining broth, lime juice, cumin and reserved bacon. Heat through. Serve topped with Chili Pesto and Tomato-Corn Salsa.

Makes 4-1/2 cups or 5 servings.

Chili Pesto:
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 can (4 oz.) chopped chilies
1/2 cup parsley sprigs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. lime juice

In covered blender or food processor, blend all ingredients until smooth. Makes 1 cup.

Tomato-corn Salsa:
1 small tomato, chopped
1/4 cup whole kernel corn
2 tbsp. finely chopped red onion
1 tbsp. chopped roasted red pepper
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/8 tsp. pepper

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Let stand 30 minutes before serving. Makes 1 cup.

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Cajun Country -- New Iberia, Louisiana