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Phoenix, Arizona, United States
The most important thing in my life is my family. I love my dear husband and 4 wonderful children (ages 11 through 18). I am a stay-at-home mom (my dream job!). Some of my favorite things to do include cooking (and eating!), photography, reading, piano, flute, watching my favorite TV shows, swimming, traveling, and most recently...using the rip stick with my kids. I would love to attend culinary school someday & fit my love of photography in with that somehow. My dream vacation is Italy - something I was recently blessed to experience! I'd love to return and see more of that beautiful and DELICIOUS country! My days are usually full of running kids to and from activities - scouts, sports, music and church. Sometimes I have to remind myself to breathe, but I absolutely LOVE my crazy life and the people I am lucky enough to share it with!

Friday, April 9, 2010

SPICY BLACK BEAN SOUP (from Art Smith's KITCHEN LIFE)

Two types of pepper, sweet red bell and fiery jalapeno, conspire to give this rib-sticking soup a mild kick. Speaking of kicks, dry sherry is a traditional flavoring for black bean soup, but you can skip it and still have a great soup. Except for the chicken broth, this soup doesn't have any meat in it. If it strikes your fancy, add some sauteed spicy sausage (a Mexican chorizo would be perfect) or crumbled bacon once the soup has been pureed.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, ribs and seeds discarded, chopped
1 jalapeno, ribs and seeds discarded, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Three 15- to 19-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 quart reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup dry sherry, optional (can also substitute red cooking wine)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Salsa, sour cream, and chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until it gives off its aroma, about 1 minute.

Stir in the beans and broth. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and partially cover the pot. Simmer for 30 minutes. During the last 5 minutes, stir in the sherry, if using.

Transfer the soup in batches to a blender and process until smooth. Pour the pureed soup into a large bowl. (If you have an immersible hand blender, you can puree the soup right in the pot.) Season the soup with salt and pepper.

Serve the soup hot. Bass bowls of salsa, sour cream, and cilantro so each person can add whatever toppings he or she likes.

MAKES 6 SERVINGS

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